Injuries are a part of the game, but for the Los Angeles Lakers they have become a way of life this season.
However, the tide appears to be turning in the injury front for Los Angeles as the team will have forwards Nick Young and Jordan Hill available for Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Young has missed 17 out of the last 18 games due to soreness and pain in his left knee. The six-year veteran had initially suffered a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise in his left knee on Feb. 5 after bumping knees with Cleveland Cavaliers forward C.J. Miles as he was attempting a lay-up on a fast break.
The 28-year-old returned after a six-game absence on Feb. 23 against the Brooklyn Nets, as he scored 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting with one rebound in 19 minutes played, but after the game he revealed that he was still experiencing pain and soreness in his left knee.
As for Hill, he has been sidelined since Feb. 28 because of a sore right knee. Both players have participated in all three practices this week without experiencing any setbacks.
“Ain’t too much Swaggy can’t do out there,” said Young, who had his last comeback from the knee injury cut short, playing just one game on Feb. 23 before deciding to sit out again. “I feel good. That’s the reason I want to get back out there.”
Head coach Mike D’Antoni expects Young to be somewhat off his game given the fact that he missed an extended period of time due to his injury.
“He could be rusty,” D’Antoni said. “He could be rusty the third game, first game, second game. It could be the second half. Who knows. You play it by ear. As long as you know he’s playing well, he’ll stay on the floor. If not, we’ll sub him in and out. It’s good to get him back and get him back in the flow.”
After signing a one-year contract worth $1.2 million last offseason, Young has been one of the few standout players on the team, as he is the second-leading scorer at 16.8 points per game. So with just 15 games remaining, the 28-year-old is hoping use the final stretch of the season to show not only to the organization but also the fans that his desire is to remain with the team next season.
“Just play hard,” Young said of his mindset upon his return. “Letting the fans know that I want to be here and I want to do what it takes for me to get some wins, let them see how hard I play.”
With Young and Hill making a return to the court with Steve Nash on Friday, there is going to a logjam as far as minutes go at the guard and forward as both positions are loaded with players vying for playing time as the season nears its end. This will all make for an interesting watch to see who D’Antoni gives minutes to for the remainder of the season.
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