John Wall’s words were foretelling in a sense. After Friday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers point guard said the key to getting out of their win-one, lose-two rut is to “compete, compete, compete.”
He then added an addendum: “And stay healthy if we can. That’s the hardest part.”
Two days later, Wall joined All-Star Paul George and Luke Kennard on the injured list that also included Marcus Morris Sr. for one game. Wall suffered an abdominal injury when he dunked during the fourth quarter against the Nuggets, sidelining him for at least two weeks, at which point he will be re-evaluated.
In the meantime, George could be closer to returning to the court after being cleared to be a full participant in practice on Monday. Morris, who suffered a knee contusion against the Nuggets, also practiced and is expected to play Tuesday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers. Kennard (calf) did not practice.
Even after experiencing pain in his abdomen, Wall continued to play the final nine minutes Friday.
“I finished the whole game after my dunk, but I couldn’t have my same explosion and I could tell ’cause a couple times I could have driven or done certain things, but I just couldn’t do it,” Wall said. “But I was comfortable enough to finish the game.”
The next day, however, he said he couldn’t run, and the area was tender.
“I think it’s me – I have not jumped like that in a long time,” Wall said. “I haven’t jumped like that when somebody contested me in probably like three years to be honest. So, I didn’t surprise myself.”
Wall said the more he gets into shape after not playing all last season, the more he is able to do, such as dunk. He said he came into training camp five pounds heavier than he wanted and has been on a strict meal plan.
“When you get your weight down and stuff like that, you can get back to you having the explosion. The heavier you are, the harder it is to do certain things,” Wall said. “I think I just stretched it as much as I could when I went like this and dunked it.”
Wall’s injury further depletes the Clippers’ choices when they use a traditional point guard. Coach Tyronn Lue has been starting Terance Mann in a non-traditional role, with Reggie Jackson coming off the bench.
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His moves, however, haven’t altered the Clippers’ fortunes. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games and carry a 23-22 record into Tuesday’s game against the 76ers (27-16), who edged the Lakers on Sunday night.
Yet, Lue remains confident that the team will turn things around and qualify for the postseason. They are currently sixth in the Western Conference, the last guaranteed spot ahead of the four play-in berths.
“If we do the right thing, do what we’re supposed to do on both sides of the basketball for 48 minutes, and we start getting Paul and Luke and those guys back and kind of get our rotation together, I think we’d be really good,” Lue said Monday. “I don’t think confidence is lacking.
“Like I said, we haven’t played great, and we’re still in the sixth spot right now. So, all we got to do is just start getting healthy, start doing things the right way, and start putting four or five games in a row, and then we’ll be right back in the thick of things.”