Lakers rookie Zubac’s start is stopped by fouls
Ivica Zubac got the news during the Lakers’ morning meeting Wednesday.
The Lakers center had been inactive for the team’s first four games. But with starting center Timofey Mozgov out with a left eye contusion, Zubac was going to start his first game in the NBA against the Atlanta Hawks.
“I was excited and surprised,” Zubac said before the game. “But I’m ready. I’m not nervous like the last time. I’m good.”
His teammates lined up to give advice and Zubac took in their wisdom, one by one. Mozgov pulled aside the second-round pick to provide his own tips at playing the position.
“He likes to fight in the low post down there,” Zubac said.
To elevate the situation further, Zubac would be facing a player he grew up admiring in Hawks center Dwight Howard. Howard is more than a decade older than the 19-year-old Zubac, but Zubac studied him as a kid.
“I mean he was once my, one of my favorite players when he was playing for Magic because he was the best center in the league at that time,” Zubac said.
The game began with Howard dunking on Zubac, but Zubac quickly recovered and scored on a turnaround hook shot for the Lakers’ first points of the game. He followed with an eight-foot hook for another basket.
Howard, though, quickly got Zubac into foul trouble. In the first quarter, Zubac had three fouls. He finished with six points and three rebounds.
“Dwight gets fouled a lot,” Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell said. “He had Zu in foul trouble but at the other end, Zu still executed and made plays on the offensive end.”
Mozgov had a CT scan Wednesday morning that was inconclusive. The purpose of the scan was to determine whether or not he had an orbital fracture.
Mozgov suffered two injuries to his face in Tuesday’s game in Indianapolis.
First, Pacers guard Jeff Teague inadvertently elbowed him in the face, causing a laceration in his mouth that ultimately required four stitches.
Mozgov returned to the game, but then was poked in the eye severely enough that it impaired his vision and he sat out most of the second half.
The Lakers finished their first trip with a 1-3 record, having lost to the Utah Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Pacers.
The Lakers get Thursday off before facing the Golden State Warriors on Friday at Staples Center.
It’s the first of a three-game homestand before the Lakers make their second trip, to Sacramento, New Orleans and Minnesota.
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