Facing a Houston Rockets team that’s been equally snakebitten by the injury bug, the Los Angeles Lakers led by as many as 21 points in the second quarter and held a comfortable lead by halftime.
Kyle Kuzma was providing the scoring punch while Lonzo Ball successfully played the role of pace-setter and facilitator. The Rockets opened the third quarter with a bit of momentum, then saw it swing completely in their favor when Ball collided with James Ennis III.
He went down in a heap of pain and remained on the ground, holding his left ankle until the Lakers could call a timeout. As Micheal Beasley and Lance Stephenson helped carry Ball off the court, Lakers head coach Luke Walton picked up two technical fouls and was ejected.
Walton explained after his team’s overtime loss that his frustration boiled over due to the non-call on Ennis III running into Ball, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I wasn’t happy with about a lot of things. But Lonzo getting hurt really took it to another level for me.”
Walton went on to elaborate on his exchange with the officials, which he did not believe warranted an ejection:
“The first technical I deserved. Second one all I said was, ‘You guys are funny. This is really funny.’ That’s all I said. I wasn’t yelling anymore. I wasn’t screaming anymore. I was shocked I got thrown out for that. I’ve heard a lot worse, I’ve said a lot worse, but it is what it is.”
The Lakers were ahead 69-54 when Ball and Walton were lost for the remainder of the night. Houston erased their deficit in the blink of an eye before the Lakers could stabilize themselves.
Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson and Ivica Zubac helped pick up the slack but the Rockets completed their furious comeback late in the fourth quarter to steal the game in overtime.
While Walton is back with the team, Ball’s status moving forward is unclear. X-rays on his sprained left ankle were negative but he’s scheduled for an MRI.
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