Lonzo Ball’s long-distance shooting was restricted to practice Friday after Lakers trainers advised Coach Luke Walton to sit the sore Lakers rookie guard for Friday night’s preseason finale against the Clippers at Staples Center.
“The training staff said, ‘No Lonzo tonight,’ so I said, ‘OK,’” Walton told reporters following Friday’s morning shootaround at their El Segundo practice facility. “When they say he’s not ready, you just go with it.”
Walton said in a pregame interview that Ball would’ve played “only if he was pain-free.” The Lakers went on to defeat the Clippers 111-104.
Before saying yes to the question, Walton paused earlier in the day when asked if he was confident Ball will play in Thursday’s regular-season opener against the Clippers, joking his delay was only connected to a thought of “what they’re serving for lunch today.
Ball sprained his ankle in the Oct. 2 preseason game against the Denver Nuggets and woke up the next morning with swelling that restricted his activity. He returned to practice Thursday and was spotted attempting some long-distance shots Friday.
“He said he feels good, just a little sore after [Thursday’s] work, but he was in here working out and went through all the shootaround,” Walton said. “He did more today than he’s been doing … it was a normal shoot-around as if he was playing. He did the whole thing.”
Walton said Ball’s conditioning and timing remains a concern before the opener against the Clippers.
“We’ve dedicated a lot of time to defense and he hasn’t been able to get those reps in. He’s been able to see it, but you’re not going to learn as well by watching as you are going through it. We expect he’ll catch up quickly.”
Walton said Ball will be cleared for regular-season action if he’s moving freely without favoring the discomfort.
“He’ll be going through everything. As long as the ankle holds up, that’ll give him time to get caught up,” Walton said. “It’s not ideal, but that’s what sports is. Every team has an injury. It’s a good practice to realize everyone has to be ready to play.”
Randle leaves game
Power forward Julius Randle departed Friday’s game early in the fourth quarter with back spasms and did not return. He finished with 15 points.
Experience vs. rest
While the Clippers sat Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Milos Teodosic and Austin Rivers on Friday, Walton sought to maximize playing time in the preseason finale.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get more reps,” Walton said, agreeing with a question about a focus on cohesion. “You’ll see a lot of our rotations we’ve been doing, plus some guys who’ve worked hard to play.”
With only six preseason games, Walton said, “I’d take another couple weeks if you’d give it to me.
“It goes team to team. If you’re a veteran team, you can’t wait for the season to get going. If you’re a team that’s learning like we are, you’ll take all the practice you can get.”
As rookie power forward Kyle Kuzma has thrust himself into starting consideration, Walton started Larry Nance Jr. in that position Friday night. Despite Kuzma averaging 19.2 points a game this preseason, Walton placed his chances of starting in Thursday’s opener as “10 percent.”
Kuzma had eight points on one-for-eight shooting. Nance had four points and seven rebounds.
Veteran Andrew Bogut was also kept out as he recovers from a left groin injury suffered when he slipped on a wet spot on the floor last week.
“Buying a few more days, precautionary,” said Bogut. “There’s no point coming back now, pushing it, then setting it back.
“I’m not worried about making the roster, but I would’ve liked a few games under my belt … you don’t want to rehab in the preseason and go into an NBA game. But I know I can contribute on this team. There’s been a big hole defensively.”
Walton envisions Bogut helping the Lakers address a glaring flaw last season, complementing the offensive work of fellow 7-footer Brook Lopez.
“He makes us bigger, stronger, tougher, more skilled,” Walton said.
1:50 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about Ball’s situation and comments from Lakers coach Luke Walton.
This article was originally published at 11:25 a.m.