Archive for the 'Luke Walton' Category

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Luke Walton Injury Update

After receiving only eight minutes of burn in L.A.’s Game 3 loss at Utah, Luke Walton was critical to L.A.’s success in Game 4, sparking a 20-2 second quarter run with a three-pointer and collecting two key third quarter steals that helped push the Lakers to a 20-point advantage.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Walton also sprained his ankle in that third quarter, and found out this news on Monday, as stated by L.A.’s PR department:

Lakers forward Luke Walton, who suffered a sprained left ankle in Saturday night’s Game 3 at Utah, had an MRI exam this morning. Results of the test show a partial tear of the deltoid ligament.

Walton will be out indefinitely and his status will be re-evaluated in approximately one week.

What does this mean for the Lakers?

Phil Jackson said that both Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom would see time on the wing in Walton’s place, which signifies that Sasha Vujacic in particular will see more time at guard. Furthermore, Andrew Bynum may be needed to play more than the 14 combined minutes he played in games three and four, and would probably start if Utah doesn’t play center Mehmet Okur, who was ineffective in 13 minutes in L.A.’s 108-94 Game 4 win.

If Walton’s is the bad news for L.A., the good is that starting small forward Trevor Ariza – who also tweaked his ankle on Saturday – is expected to play. Ariza told Jackson he was fine while taking shots alongside teammates at Monday’s shootaround, and is listed as “probable.”

Ariza Probable, Walton Questionable for Game 5

What was it about L.A.’s small forwards and ankle injuries in Utah?

Let’s take a look:

Starter Trevor Ariza: Prior to L.A.’s 108-94 Game 4 victory in Salt Lake City on Saturday evening, Ariza tweaked his right ankle by stepping on Josh Powell’s foot, and aggravated the injury during the first quarter. That didn’t prevent him, however, from playing 27 minutes and coming up with a key steal and three-pointer in the fourth quarter. He finished with five points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Status: Ariza is listed as probable for Monday’s game and expected to start.

Sub Luke Walton: During a third quarter run in which Walton played a crucial role, he jammed his ankle – spraining it without rolling it – and missed most of the rest of the ball game. Nonetheless, he contributed markedly with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in only 18 minutes.
Status: Walton is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision.

After Sunday’s practice, Phil Jackson confirmed that Ariza is the more likely Laker to play, but didn’t rule anything out. Fortunately for Jackson, he can slide Sasha Vujacic, Kobe Bryant or Lamar Odom over to the wing, and might activate Adam Morrison should Ariza or Walton not be able to go. Clearly, clinching their series against the Jazz is paramount for a team that would like not only to allow its small forwards to rehabilitate, but get some needed rest for Pau Gasol and additional practice time for Andrew Bynum.

Post Practice Video: Sunday
To watch Jackson’s post-practice comments, along with those of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, CLICK HERE.

Friendly Success

Luke WaltonLuke Walton and Jordan Farmar have their Matt Damon – Ben Affleck thing going on, no question about it.

The question is, does that friendship translate into success onto the NBA floor?

“I don’t know if there’s a direct correlation between being good friends and playing well together on the court,” said Walton upon first consideration. “I think it more has to do with our styles of playing the game. We both understand the game pretty well and over the past two years, we’ve played a lot of 2-of-2 and 3-on-3 with each other and developed a good feel for each other’s games.”

Farmar had a different perspective.

“It definitely helps,” he countered. “If you’re friends with someone, you know their game, you know what they’re good at, you know how to put them in a position to be successful and you want them to be successful. They want the same for you, so it’s a different kind of chemistry and feeling out there when you like, know and enjoy people you’re playing with.”

So … which is it?

To read more, CLICK HERE to visit the article’s home on Lakers.com.

Walton Feeling Zona’s Sweet 16

March MadnessA No. 12 seed into the Sweet 16, huh?

“I tried to tell everyone already,” said Luke Walton without too much prompting regarding his Arizona Wildcats. “My teammates were all getting on me for picking Arizona because I was showing favoritism to my school, but I’m a realist. I just told them what was going to happen. I have them going to the National Championship game.”

While ‘Zona still has a long ways to go to get there – they’d have to beat Louisville, the Michigan State/Kansas winner and likely either UCONN or Memphis – Walton’s already feeling pretty good. He correctly picked 38 of the 48 possible games played in rounds one and two, and was the only participant in our Lakers.com March Madness contest (he ranks third behind Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison) to correctly take Arizona to the Sweet 16, where they’ll face Rick Pitino’s squad.

“We have a tough matchup against Louisville, but we have two kids starting for Arizona that are from San Diego, which definitely helps,” said Walton, who coincidentally happens to be from San Diego. “We have a tough point guard in Nic Wise – you need a tough point to succeed in the tourney – and we have one of the best big men in the country in Jordan Hill. That’s the recipe for success right there.”

Now, if his teammates are talking trash, Walton’s not listening.

“The things is, my teammates aren’t even allowed to talk to me about it – except for Shannon (Brown) and Adam (Morrison), because they’ve got Michigan State and Gonzaga still going,” Walton explained. “If your team is out of it, you can’t speak to the people that have teams still playing for something. You can’t talk trash – I mean you can talk to me, just not about college basketball.”

So if Brown or Morrison wants to have a nice lil’ NCAA conversation with Luke, it’s all good. On the other hand, an example of guys who aren’t allowed to speak to Walton about college hoops are Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar, whose UCLA Bruins lost in the second round to Villanova.

“That’s what happens when you don’t win your conference or conference tournament, you get a higher seed and have to go up against a team playing great basketball in their hometown (Philadelphia),” said Farmar. “I took the hit in my Lakers.com bracket with my Bruins pick to win it all, but if I’m going down it’s going to be with my boys.”

Fair enough.

Ariza to Continue Starting

ArizaPrior to L.A.’s win against Houston, Luke Walton approached head coach Phil Jackson with an idea: why not see if L.A.’s flow worked better with Trevor Ariza starting and Walton coming off the bench?

Jackson concurred, and both players were effective in L.A.’s 102-96 win. Ariza scored eight points with six boards, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes, while Walton logged eight points alongside five boards and two assists in 23 minutes.

Jackson said the team would stick with that lineup for the foreseeable future.

Ariza had protested a starting role earlier in the season, but apparently changed his tune when the bench wasn’t producing much in the last few weeks. After the Houston win, Ariza said that “It’s cool” for him to continue starting, as long as it’s helping the team.

Red and White On Lakers’ Back

Luke Walton on Kevin DurantWith the Lakers set to play 10-of-13 games on the road after Friday’s home game vs. Minnesota, we wonder how much harder it is to win on the road with a giant target draped across a team’s back?

Clearly, with their 21-8 road record standing out as the league’s best, getting a given opponent’s best effort hasn’t been too much of a problem for L.A. … Yet and still, the Lakers logo has been at the center of the white and red circles throughout this particular season: Arenas are sold out every game, opposing fans are charged to the nth degree and players around the league consistently want to prove themselves against the only team other than Boston that boasts both elite talent and tradition.

One of the questions we asked Luke Walton is if opposing teams have gotten this revved up against the previous Lakers teams in his career, or if the team’s skill level this season is afforded more effort? Furthermore, does this help excuse road losses like L.A. suffered in Denver and Phoenix, games in which both opponents played as if losing would result in, I don’t know, the loss of that game’s check? Or was that simple fatigue resulting from a February out of their California nookie-blankie?

What do you think, Luke?

Lakers Preparing for LeBron, Cavs

Best in the East?
Perfect 80 degree weather and the NFC Championship game (see: Kobe’s insistence that his Eagles t-shirt hang from his locker) didn’t keep the Lakers out of the gym on Sunday afternoon, not with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers coming into town on Monday.

Cleveland is perhaps the last, if not the best, contender for the championship trophy that the L.A. has yet to play. After all, the purple and gold have already seen Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, New Orleans, Utah and Houston (and even Denver and Phoenix).

Why are the 31-7 Cavs so dangerous? The very obvious answer is LeBron’s 27.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.3 blocks and All-First Team defense.

“(James has) made some improvements, in terms of protecting the lane, getting out in passing lanes, but he’s his usual stellar self,” said Kobe Bryant after practice. “I’m a big fan of his … I think he’s terrific.”

Kobe conceded that LeBron’s Olympic experience probably helped spur his defense on this season, and also said that he will “definitely” guard James at times during Monday’s game.

But it’s anything but a one-man team in Cleveland … LeBron’s been boosted by the presence of Mo Williams – a free agent acquisition from Milwaukee – who has taken some of the ball-handling pressure off James, and is a terrific perimeter shooter.

“He’s a big help, a legitimate scoring threat,” said Kobe of Williams. “He’s a person you have to identify, and we played him last year when he was in Milwaukee and he gave us fits.”

Throw in some other smooth shooters like Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Booby Gibson and Sasha Pavlovic, plus three bigs who play good defense – Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao – and your squad’s looking strong to quite strong.

On Monday, however, the Cavs will be without two starters: Ilgauskas, who’s been on the shelf with a bad ankle, and West, who broke his wrist against Chicago last week.

Walton Goes Through Full Practice, But Won’t Start
Luke Walton completed his first full practice since missing the last eight games due to his foot injury.

“You can run all day but until you’ve actually played defense, switched, gone over screens and rebounded, it’s not the same,” said Walton. “It felt great, it didn’t hurt at all.”

Though Walton was very effective against Cleveland last season, Phil Jackson will continue to start Vladimir Radmanovic.

“Last year, I thought Luke did a really good job on (James) when he played him,” said Jackson. “(But) he’s still feeling his way a little bit.”

Sasha Finds Shooting Touch
Phil Jackson liked what he saw from Sasha Vujacic at Sunday’s practice: “He was shooting the ball (well) and looks like he’s back in rhythm,” explained the coach.

“I’m glad he said that,” said Vujacic. “It’s definitely good to be back … I’m feeling good. (The Lakers training staff) has been huge in getting me ready to play, and I’m 100 percent right now.”

With Vujacic and Walton both feeling much better, L.A. finally has 13 players healthy, and is waiting only on Farmar to boast its full complement of players.

Vujacic In, Walton Out

After this morning’s shootaround, it appeared that both Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton would play this evening.

As it turns out, Vujacic is on the active roster, while Walton will spend another game in street clothes.

In his regular pregame media session, Phil Jackson explained that although Walton could play if he had to, the Lakers would like to go through a full practice as he’s been out for the past two weeks.

In the locker room, Walton said that he’s finally pain free (clearly good news), and is targeting Monday’s game against Cleveland for his return.

Jackson added that he’s not sure how many Vujacic will play against Orlando, but intimated that it’s more likely for him to stay on the court for stretches of time (rather than going in and out) in order to keep his back loose.

Walton, Vujacic Probable for Orlando

The Lakers finally received some good news on the injury front after Friday’s shootaround.

Both Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic are listed as “probable” after Vujacic missed L.A.’s two-game Texas trip with back spasms and Walton the last seven games with his injured foot.

Walton and Vujacic participated in shootaround Friday and appeared to be moving well, though there’s always the chance that either injury could flare up prior to the 7:30 p.m. tip.

In other news, Derek Fisher’s groin strain does not appear to be an issue, and he is expected to start. That leaves Jordan Farmar as the only player on the roster that will definitely not play.

Walton Talks about Foot

Earlier today, Dr. Ken Jung confirmed that Luke Walton is suffering from sesamoiditis in his right foot, which has found Walton in a protective boot that he’ll sport throughout the week.

Set to begin non-weight bearing rehabilitation exercises in a pool today, Walton is expected to be out a minimum of two weeks.

After Monday’s practice, Walton addressed local media pertaining to his disappointment about the injury, which had been bugging him increasingly until he spoke to Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.