Brook Lopez closing in on Lakers return

While the Los Angeles Lakers have undoubtedly missed point guard Lonzo Ball, they have also been playing without starting center Brook Lopez. However, he is getting close to a comeback.

Lopez has missed the last two weeks with a sprained right ankle, but the team has cleared him to return to practice. Ball, too, has received approval to return to practice after the team evaluated both players on Tuesday.

The Lakers have deemed Lopez and Ball questionable for their matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. If they do not return against Oklahoma City, the games against Charlotte or Atlanta over the weekend would seem like a safe bet. They have been officially considered day-to-day.

Lopez’s role has shifted depending on the opponent. Teams sporting bigger front lines necessitate more of a need for the veteran center, while small-ball lineups usually require more of Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle.

At the very least, Lopez will give the Lakers’ offense another reliable scorer. In addition to his low post game, Lopez is an experienced three-point shooter–helping to stretch the floor. The Lakers have lost seven of the right games in which Lopez has missed. He suffered the injury on Dec. 18.

Lopez is averaging 12.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG in a little over 22 minutes of action. He is also shooting 44.4 percent from the field in his first season as a Laker.

The Lakers are currently 11-25 in the standings, but the return of two starters should help Luke Walton’s squad. “[Lonzo] is someone that we believe makes big plays, winning plays,” the head coach said at Lakers practice. “Whether it is a steal or a throw ahead to end a run, whatever it is, he is constantly making them throughout a game."

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