Wednesday night at a steakhouse in Miami Beach, Lonzo Ball offered to help his fellow rookie Josh Hart with a complicated task.
Hart broke his hand in practice earlier that day. He couldn’t cut his steak himself.
“I offered,” Ball said. “At first he was a little hesitant, but then he looked at his hand and he said it was OK.”
Hart will have surgery Friday morning to repair his broken left hand.
He fractured his fourth metacarpal, the bone that extends into the ring finger, during practice Wednesday in Miami. He flew back to Los Angeles on Thursday morning so the Lakers team doctors could examine him. No timetable was immediately available, but he will be evaluated again after the surgery.
“Aw, man, it’s terrible, he did so many things for us on both ends of the floor, a lot that goes unnoticed,” forward Julius Randle said. “Like I said, it’s going to be hard for us without him, but we’re all gonna have to do a little bit more and just keep going.”
Hart was the 30th pick in June’s draft after spending four years at Villanova. He has played in 55 of the Lakers’ 60 games this season, starting in 20. He’s averaged 21.5 minutes, 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds and had five double-doubles.
“There’s going to be lineups out there that haven’t played together much,” coach Luke Walton said. “… We’ll probably get [Kyle] Kuzma at some 3 as well as 4 now, so guys just got to be ready to play.”
Wade appreciates Thomas
Two of the players shuttled elsewhere Feb. 8, when the Cleveland Cavaliers took a chainsaw to their roster, faced each other Thursday night in Miami.
“One thing I know about him, you don’t become a household name at 5-foot whatever he is without having grit, without having toughness, without knowing that you can overcome anything,” Wade said.
Thomas, listed at 5-9, played only 15 games for the Cavaliers after being traded from the Boston Celtics. He played through a torn labrum while with the Celtics. Once in Cleveland, he sat out while that injury healed. Things soured between Thomas and the rest of the team as the Cavaliers struggled with chemistry issues.
“It was frustrating for him to work six, seven months, trying to get back on the basketball floor,” Wade said. “And then when you finally get out there … you’ve got a 15-game experiment and it doesn’t go right and it’s not all your fault, but everyone’s going to point at your fault. There’s a lot of reasons things didn’t go right.
“But the biggest thing is everything happens for a reason too and I liked the way that he’s playing out there, he’s free, he’s got a different bounce in his step. He will continue to get his confidence back in his body, and his game. I enjoyed my time being his teammate. He’s a little feisty little guy, but off the court I definitely got a chance to know him, and enjoy him.”
Brandon Ingram suffered a strained left hip flexor in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game and is questionable for Saturday’s game in San Antonio.
“I will see how it feels tomorrow,” said Ingram, who scored 19 points against the Heat. “Of course we want to close this road trip out with a 4-0 win streak and just see how it feels tomorrow and take it day by day. In my mind, I want to play of course.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli