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Lonzo Ball dealing with a bone bruise that could extend his timeline for return

Lonzo Ball dealing with a bone bruise that could extend his timeline for return
Second-year point guard Lonzo Ball has played in 47 of the Lakers' 58 games this season. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has been dealing with a bone bruise in his sprained left ankle that the team believes could extend his recovery past six weeks, according to two people familiar with Ball’s condition.

Ball severely sprained his ankle on Jan. 19 in the third quarter of the Lakers’ loss to the Houston Rockets. He had to be carried off the court by two teammates.

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While Ball initially thought he broke his ankle, an X-ray taken at a nearby hospital confirmed there was no fracture. An MRI the next day showed a fully torn ligament, which indicated a Grade 3 sprain.

Ball moved quickly through the early stages of his rehab. He used crutches for about a week and wore a protective boot on his left ankle for less time than that.

Ball began running on an underwater treadmill two weeks ago and last week he began work on an antigravity treadmill, but was limited because of the bone bruise.

Ball has missed 11 games and the Lakers have struggled defensively without him. In games they were partially or fully without Ball, the Lakers have given up an average of 123 points per game. Their defensive rating plummeted in Ball’s absence. Thursday’s game against the Houston Rockets represented the best defense the Lakers had played since his injury.

“We are still missing a key piece of our unit in Zo, which we’ve missed a lot,” LeBron James said before Thursday’s game. “But we are definitely together and we look forward to seeing what we are capable of.”

Ball spent the offseason increasing his strength, especially in his upper body, as he worked to recover from offseason knee surgery and had become one of the Lakers’ best all-around players.

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