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Lonzo Ball to miss Lakers' Christmas game because of sprained shoulder

Lonzo Ball to miss Lakers' Christmas game because of sprained shoulder
Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, left, and center Jusuf Nurkic. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Lonzo Ball won’t play in his first Christmas Day game.

The Lakers point guard had an MRI Sunday on his left shoulder, which he injured on Saturday night during the Lakers’ 95-92 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He suffered the injury shortly before halftime and left the court with Lakers trainer Marco Nunez. Ball returned to the game after an examination and said he was fine.

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“I am not really sure what happened but definitely felt it pop kind of,” Ball said Saturday. “I’ll just ice it and be ready to go Christmas.”

Further testing proved otherwise.

Overall this season, Ball has shot 35% from the field and 29% from three-point range. During a five-game span heading into Saturday night, Ball made 47% of his three-pointers.

The Lakers say Ball will be reevaluated in one week. That could mean he misses five games. During the next week the Lakers will play Minnesota (twice), the Clippers, Houston and Memphis.

Officiating frustration

There isn’t a coach in the NBA who has been assessed more technical fouls than Lakers coach Luke Walton. But Walton doesn’t typically express his frustrations in his postgame interviews.

That changed Saturday night.

“Every night I hear different rules about what’s a foul and what’s not a foul,” Walton said. “I got a technical tonight. I didn’t know that if you try to draw a charge and you flop, the flop is a defensive foul. I guess I was wrong on that.”

Walton was frustrated by some calls Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t get.

“James Harden shot 20 free throws doing the same things against us,” Walton said. “{Lonzo Ball] gets his shoulder ripped. It’s frustrating. We’re trying to teach this young team how to play and what to do and do it properly, and it just feels like every night it’s a different excuse on why we’re not getting calls. … Kuzma shot a three late in the game and I’m sitting there watching, his whole shooting arm gets hit. He can’t even follow through. We’re up one. Three free throws. Maybe we win that way. We could have won the game.”

After his measured rant, Walton added that his own players could have done more to avoid the officiating being such an issue.

The elephant in the room

Many of the men who play for the Lakers today probably won’t be part of the team in the near future. That’s a reality of this season, as the Lakers haven’t been shy about wanting to add two max contracts to their roster this summer.

That creates an awkward situation for some of the players whom the Lakers might try to move in order to get the necessary salary cap space, or those who they’ve already tried to move like Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.

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“We laugh about it but you just can’t let it affect you,” Andrew Bogut said. “It is hard to tell young guys — 18, 19, 20 — that come from a great college environment that are usually great cultures that are built on team first, and then you come into a situation like this sometimes where kind of guys don’t know if they are coming or going. That is just the way it is in professional sports. You have to just come in and do your job to your best ability.”

LAKERS UP NEXT

VS TIMBERWOLVES

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

On Air: TV – TNT; Radio – 710, 1330

Update: Minnesota comes to Los Angeles on a three-game winning streak. The Timberwolves (20-13) are a young team on the rise and currently fourth in the Western Conference after the Warriors, Rockets and Spurs.

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