The Lakers received some good news in advance of their Christmas Day matchup against the Miami Heat: Jordan Farmar was cleared to play after undergoing an ultrasound that showed complete healing of his hamstring.
“I felt good for awhile,” Farmar said post practice. “But finally to get the clearance and just be able to come out there and help the guys out and do anything I can is what I’m excited about.”
Farmar had missed the previous three-plus weeks after suffering a tear in his left hamstring in L.A.’s home contest against Portland on Dec. 1. While sidelined, the team also lost Steve Blake to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and then Kobe Bryant to a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau of his knee. With only three healthy guards on the roster, that left Xavier Henry to assume starting point guard duties over the last three games.
“He did a good job,” Farmar said of Henry filling in at point guard. “It’s tough to just throw somebody out there who has no previous experience and then have no backup for a long time. It was tough and he did a good job with it. Now I look forward to him being able to attack and do what he does best.”
Farmar understands his main duties for a team that has struggled of late on the offensive end, especially in the last two games at Golden State and at Phoenix. In those contests, the Lakers averaged just 86.5 points and shot 34.8 percent from the floor, and their assist numbers were down from 23.3 per game to 11.5.
“I’m just trying to get everybody back to doing what they’re comfortable doing and be in positions where they can really be successful,” Farmar said.
Prior to his injury, the UCLA product had been playing some of the best ball of his career, particularly on the team’s three-game road trip at the end of November. In those games, he was averaging 16.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 61.3 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent on three-pointers.
His return comes against a Miami team that has won five in a row and seven of their last eight games. The Heat defeated Atlanta in overtime on Monday, after erasing a seven-point deficit in the final 1:39 of regulation.
“They move the ball, they spread the floor, they’re very aggressive defensively and they turn you over,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That gets them out on the fastbreak and they’re a devastating team (in transition).”
Miami ranks first in the league in forcing turnovers (18.4 per game) and ranks second in the league in offensive efficiency (109.6). LeBron James, who is shooting a career high 59.9 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent on three-pointers, spearheads that offense.
“He’s playing at a very, very high level,” D’Antoni said. “He gets better every year, which is scary. You don’t him to get to the rim and you don’t want to foul him. You try to do that and you try to contain him as much you can.”
But with Farmar back in the mix, the Lakers receive what they hope will help spark a team that has lacked the playmaking ability on offense recently. And the coaching staff remains optimistic that this group can get it done, despite facing adversity all year long.
“We have to rise to the occasion,” D’Antoni said. “This is another chance to do that. We have a good group that’s fun to coach and we have to pull in the same direction to make sure we’re hitting on all cylinders.”