Blazers vs. Lakers: Wayne Ellington Out For Season


The Blazers play the Lakers on Friday night in Los Angeles. The Blazers lead the season series 3-0.

Wayne Ellington, the journeyman shooting guard the Lakers picked up off the scrap heap in September, separated his shoulder in a late game collision against the Pelicans and will miss the remaining nine games of the Lakers season. It was a tough way for Ellington to end his Lakers experience given that he surpassed all expectations and matched his numbers from 2012-13 when he played for Byron Scott in Cleveland and had a career year. Then, as in now, he averaged 10 points and 3 rebounds.

Ellington’s good year was bookended by tragedy on the one hand- his father’s murder- and injury on the other- his shoulder coming apart. The bulk of his time playing for the Lakers was productive and a welcome addition: someone who could actually make shots.

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The Lakers now lack a player who can come off screens and drill open jumpers- not necessarily a bad thing as they are fighting to maintain their 4th slot in the lottery hunt. Before signing a player to replace Ellington, the Lakers are trying to get a hardship exception approved.

Or, is this just one more Mitch Kupchak illusion where he creates a roster to lose on purpose but pretends he is doing the opposite.

If the approval is delayed, the Lakers will rotate their line-up (again) and Ryan Kelly may find himself playing small forward where he is a disaster while Wesley Johnson plays some shooting guard. But, does it really matter at this point?

The Blazers lost a game they should have won Wednesday night against the Clippers, a possible first round playoff matchup that they blew after Chris Kaman was (inadvertently?) hit in the groin by Chris Paul. The Blazers folded after the fake fight that followed and the Clippers stormed back from a double digit lead to win the game and demoralize Portland. A win would have sealed up the division for the Blazers.

The Blazers can accomplish that in Staples Center which would be one more crushing of past demons. Once upon a time, the Lakers kept the Blazers from the NBA Finals (2000). In that game, the Blazers also had a double digit lead. But, there was no hit to the groin. They just folded and watched the Lakers march to the NBA Finals.

No NBA Finals for the Lakers this year or intrigue about this game. The Lakers will trot out their third worst NBA defense and helplessly stand by as Damian Lillard drives the ball right past them or distributes on the wing to an open shooter or finishes through traffic or hits three point shots…the list goes on and on.

LaMarcus Aldridge was tough to handle when the Lakers had Pau Gasol, now it’s Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly’s job, an undrafted rookie and a second round forward asked to keep Aldridge from doing whatever he wants. Good luck.

As the days wind down to another Lakers season in the toilet, there is something the Lakers can take pride in. Tonight, they can match last year’s losses (55). So, it wasn’t Mike D’antoni’s fault after all.

Next: Is Jordan Hill Coming Back Next Season?