Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will miss some time with a sprained ankle.
The Los Angeles Lakers took care of business on Friday night, besting the San Antonio Spurs for the second straight game by a score of 109-103. It was not all positive, however, as guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was forced to leave the game with an ankle injury.
KCP was playing really well in the game before spraining his ankle while attempting a blocked lay-up during the third quarter. Initial x-rays came back negative, but it would not be surprising if KCP missed a game or two.
KCP told reporters that it was “just a little sprain” and that he hopes to return in a couple of days (h/t Mike Trudell). The Lakers’ game is on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies and then Tuesday, again against the Grizzlies. Tuesday appears to be the earliest possible return date for KCP, but I would not expect it.
Here is the play in which KCP suffered the injury:
There is a silver lining to this injury though.
The Los Angeles Lakers will get at least one extended look at Talen Horton-Tucker in the regular season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is not the only Laker that is out of action. Alex Caruso has not played since the team’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 27. Caruso has been ruled out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols and he has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies.
With the Lakers having back-to-back games in Memphis, I think the most logical return date for Caruso at this point would be once the team returns home on the seventh.
The Los Angeles Lakers have really missed Caruso’s perimeter defense and are taking another hit in KCP. KCP is not the greatest defender, but it is still a loss for a team that has struggled a tad defensively to start the year.
Both Caruso and KCP being out paves the way for 20-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker to get ample playing time. THT was lighting up the preseason for the Lakers but then, understandably, got a much smaller role once the year began.
He is still playing a decent amount, averaging 12.4 points per game alongside 6.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals. He is shooting 42.9% from the field, 40% from three.
Most of THT’s minutes came in the blowout win over Minnesota but he did post his second-highest minutes played against the Spurs after KCP was hurt. THT played 14 minutes, half of which came directly after KCP was hurt. He played 7:43 from the end of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth quarter.
He is undoubtedly going to get more playing time with these two out and may receive somewhere around 18 minutes a game, even if it is just for one game. With no Ja Morant, the Grizzlies do not pose the greatest challenge, providing THT an opportunity to get more regular-season minutes under his belt and thrive.
We have already seen what he can do in the preseason but it is the preseason for a reason. THT getting more minutes while the game is competitive should only raise his stock and show the coaching staff that he is the real deal.
And with more opportunities as the season goes along, I would not be shocked if Talen Horton-Tucker plays his way into the Los Angeles Lakers playoff rotation.