Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma is questionable for Friday’s game with Clippers because of quad contusion

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) leaves the court at the end of a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Christmas Day.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers could be without another starter Friday for their game against the Clippers.

Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable with a right quad contusion.

Kuzma suffered the injury Wednesday in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 109-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies upon taking a knee to his quad area. Kuzma returned to the game after suffering the injury.

Lakers coach Luke Walton canceled practice Thursday so it’s unclear how much work Kuzma would have done had the team practiced.

Kuzma scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds against the Grizzlies, but the rookie, who has been shooting well all season, made only four of 24 shots.


“I’m not gonna make an excuse,” Kuzma said after the game. “I mean, basketball is basketball. Shots just didn’t fall tonight. Usually they do. Some nights they don’t.”

The Lakers have already declared starting point guard Lonzo Ball (shoulder) and center Brook Lopez (ankle) out for Friday’s game.

Slow lane

The Lakers prefer to push the pace offensively but were unable to do so against the slow-and-go Grizzlies without Ball, who missed his second straight game.

The Lakers scored nine fast-break points and shot 37.6%, their second-worst shooting night of the season. They had 14 assists. The Grizzlies clogged the paint, and the combined 46 fouls between the teams — which led to 72 free throws — helped bottle up the Lakers.

“We know how important Lonzo is to us with the way he plays and the way we want to play, the way he pushes the ball, the way he hits whoever is open every time,” Walton said. “That’s contagious. And now that he’s not out there, we have to make a point of still playing that way.

“We’re not gonna turn into an [isolation] team, that’s not our strength. We don’t have guys who are ready to just go one-on-one. The way for us to win, to be at our best, is to share the ball, make the extra pass and when you’re open, whether we’re hitting them or not, you have to shoot it with confidence.”


To the point

Jordan Clarkson, a high-volume shooter who is used to coming off the bench and scoring, started the last two games at point guard. Though he had 22 points against Memphis, he looked uncomfortable running the offense at times, and one out-of-control drive led to a traveling violation in the third quarter. He had two assists.

“It’s always a fine line between facilitating and scoring, especially when you’re a natural scorer like he is,” Walton said. “But with the position he’s in now, we definitely need him playmaking for others as well as looking to be aggressive and to score some points.”

Clarkson had 17 points and seven assists in Monday night’s loss to Minnesota, but missed his first seven shots and took 24 shots in all, making eight of them.

“It’s hard to get into that point-guard mode, especially with the way minutes are being distributed, but I’m figuring it out,” Clarkson said. “Luke just wants me to be aggressive, whether I’m scoring off the bench or in the starting lineup.”

Practice doesn’t make perfect


The Lakers, who have the worst free-throw shooting percentage (68.9%) in the league, have been shooting hundreds of free throws every day in practice. They shot 63.6% from the line Wednesday, making 21 of 33 attempts.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made all seven of his free throws. His teammates combined to go 14 for 26 from the line. Brandon Ingram scored a team-high 23 points but made only five of 11 free throws.

“It’s just one of those things we’re working on, we’re drilling it,” forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “It doesn’t get better overnight. There are going to be some growing pains with it, but the work is being put in, and we’ll figure it out.”



When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. PT.

On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes, Prime; Radio: 570, 710, 1330.

Update: The Clippers are getting closer to a return by Blake Griffin, who suffered a knee injury the last time the Lakers and Clippers played. Griffin was sent down to the Clippers’ development league team this week to prepare for his return.


Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli