HOUSTON — The Lakers’ player availability continued to seesaw for Wednesday’s road game against the Houston Rockets.
After a four-game absence because of the concussion protocol, Lakers forward Rui Hachimura returned to the lineup. But star big man Anthony Davis missed his first game because of left adductor/hip spasms.
Jaxson Hayes also missed his second consecutive game because of a sprained left ankle.
“We’re treating it,” Coach Darvin Ham said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. He experienced a little bit of swelling, so we’re just trying to be careful with it.
Davis suffered the injury in Monday’s loss to the Heat in Miami. He said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround that he was feeling “a lot better than whenever it happened” and that he’d get more treatment in the afternoon before a decision was made about his availability. Davis was ruled out an hour before tipoff.
This left the Lakers with nine available players, excluding players signed to two-way contracts: Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince, LeBron James, Christian Wood, Cam Reddish, Max Christie and Maxwell Lewis.
Wood started in Davis’ place alongside Russell, Reaves, Prince and James.
The Lakers have had just eight or nine non-two-way deal players available for all of November. Ham admitted there’s frustration with the dilemma of balancing players’ health with the goals of building continuity within lineups but he said it’s also allowed for an opportunity “to see who can do what.”
“The new pieces we’ve acquired, the guys that have come back having larger roles, in some sense, it allows you to see that aspect within the totality of your team,” Ham added. “Obviously, you’d like for people to be healthy. But different guys getting the opportunity to go out there – Cam Reddish, those guys like that, Max Christie – seeing those young guys get a chance to impact our lineup, impact the game, impact winning and see what they can bring.
“It’s a process of discovery. We’ll get our bodies back. It’s just funny because it’s like someone’s coming back, someone’s going out. So you just have to navigate that as best you can. Our No. 1 priority is not to put our guys in a position where they can do extreme damage to themselves. So we just have to be patient.”
Ham confirmed pregame that the Lakers contacted the league office Tuesday about what they believed were “numerous missed foul calls”, according to ESPN, in Monday’s loss to the Heat.
Ham said it’s “good communication” when a team contacts the league (many do), but didn’t directly address whether he expects that the Lakers are going to start getting the fouls called that they feel they deserve.
“The thing I think that needs to be understood is we’re not campaigning for favors,” Ham said. “We just want balance and consistency and whatever that’s happening is being called. And that’s all. That’s the only point we’re trying to make is that it’s a fair whistle – and I’ll just leave it there.”
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