For the next month, the Lakers will try to find ways to motivate themselves without the possibility of the playoffs as a potential reward. And they will do it without two members of their young core.
Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will not play again this season, the Lakers medical staff determined before their 120-107 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. The Lakers have now lost five games in a row and are 30-36.
LeBron James had a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in 28 minutes. Moe Wagner started and scored 22 points, and Johnathan Williams scored 18 points off the bench with 10 rebounds.
In addition to Ball and Ingram, the Lakers were also without Kyle Kuzma (ankle) and Lance Stephenson (sprained left second toe).
Ingram was diagnosed with a deep venous thrombosis, or a blood clot, in his arm, a condition that can be life threatening if not properly treated. If a blood clot travels to a person’s lung, it can cause a pulmonary embolism. Ingram had missed two games with a sore shoulder and then was examined by the Lakers’ medical staff on Friday.
“I think it just puts everything in perspective,” James said. “At the end of the day we play the game that we love, our league is all about wins and losses and that’s what it’s all about, but when you have something like that happen, you’re able to put those things in perspective and understand how important those things are as well.
“And on the flip side you just don’t take an opportunity for granted when you do get on the floor because it can be taken away from you. Your season can be shut down like BI’s instance, like Zo’s instance. Like their cases. Obviously we wish the best of health not only to BI but to Zo as well.”
Lakers coach Luke Walton addressed the team about Ingram’s condition but declined to say anything about his condition or his mental state upon hearing the news.
“I talked to the guys; that’s what we do,” Walton said. “But I’m giving them the same I gave you — details aren’t mine to give, but I did talk to the team about it.”
Blood clots are more often found in the lower body than the upper body and are especially dangerous if they recur.
The condition caused the end of former All-Star forward Chris Bosh’s career. Bosh was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung in 2015 and immediately checked into the hospital. In February 2016, doctors found multiple blood clots in Bosh’s calves and told him his career was probably over.
“It was uncertainty,” James said, when asked what it was like for Bosh as he dealt with his blood clot issues. “Why me? How do you tackle this? What’s next? A lot of things that go through your head. You just gotta trust the medical staff that is put in place for you, get your second opinion if you need one to clear your head. And you take the necessary steps to getting back to being healthy. That’s what’s the most important.”
Hours after the Lakers announced Ingram’s condition, Ball was examined by doctors and the Lakers and Ball decided to hold him out for the rest of the season, according to a person familiar with the decision. It’s unclear whether Ball would have been able to play at some point this season. But with the playoffs out of reach, the Lakers and Ball opted to focus on his future.
The Lakers did not announce that Ball’s season was finished, simply that he will be reevaluated in two weeks. The team said he was cleared to begin noncontact basketball activities.
Ball suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain on Jan. 19 in Houston. That is the most severe sprain and includes a torn ligament. A bone bruise was later discovered in his ankle that further hindered his recovery.
So severely short-handed, many of the Lakers young players were pressed into service. Wagner played 34 minutes and G League two-way players Williams and Alex Caruso each played nearly 30 minutes.
But the Lakers couldn’t overcome a poor shooting night. They made only five of 27 three-point attempts while Boston shot better than 50% overall and made 14 of 38 threes.
“I think we had the right mind-set, the right energy,” Rajon Rondo said. “Tonight was one of those nights when the other team was a little bit better as far as offensively making shots. I think they made every contested shot possible and we missed every open shot possible. When those things happen it’s not a recipe for success.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli