More Lakers injuries: Reaves, Walker IV expected to miss 2 weeks

The Lakers have gotten uncomfortably familiar with coping with injuries in the last few seasons – but a double-whammy of losing two key role players could be especially difficult in the coming weeks.

The team announced Friday morning that Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV are expected to miss the next two weeks after being evaluated by team doctors. Reaves is dealing with a left hamstring strain, while Walker, who has missed three consecutive games already, has left knee tendinitis.

The injuries leave the Lakers (17-21) without their third-leading scorer in Walker (14.7 ppg) and one of their most versatile wings in Reaves (10.8 ppg, 2.2 apg), hurting their depth at a position of need all season long. When added to the injury of Anthony Davis (27.4 ppg, 12.1 rpg), the team’s limits are being stretched as they’re fighting to get out of 12th place in the Western Conference.

Late Friday morning, the Lakers tried to address the situation by using their 15th roster spot to sign veteran wing Sterling Brown to a 10-day contract. The Illinois native has five seasons of NBA experience and most recently played in the G League for the Raptors 905.

In addition to being the younger brother of former Laker Shannon Brown, Sterling Brown also has familiarity with coach Darvin Ham from their time with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Brown has career averages of 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game with a 36% mark from 3-point range.

The Lakers have consistently found themselves to be at size disadvantages throughout the season. Without Reaves and Walker, two of their biggest guards, they’ll likely spread more minutes across Dennis Schröder, Patrick Beverley, Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn – all 6-foot-3 or shorter. The Lakers have also turned to 6-foot-6 rookie wing Max Christie at times this season for additional depth.

The Lakers’ schedule relents slightly after a road-heavy slate: The team plays eight games in the next two weeks, six of which are at home.

In the short term, Troy Brown Jr. – who was kneed in the left quad against the Miami Heat and could not finish the game on Wednesday – was ruled out for Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. LeBron James, who missed Wednesday’s game, is probable to play.

Reaves’ injury news arrived the same day when the contract for the second-year undrafted player out of Oklahoma became guaranteed. Reaves has played 36 games to this point, more than any other Laker through 38 games. Teammate Wenyen Gabriel’s contract also became guaranteed Friday.

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The Lakers pulled off a win Wednesday against the Heat without James, Davis, Walker or Brown Jr. (in the second half). Ham said the Lakers would have to bring a consistent approach no matter who is on the court, a statement that now hauntingly reads like a manifesto for the next few weeks.

“Everybody just banded together and continued to fight,” Ham said. “And that’s what we have to be about. That’s what our identity has to be night in and night out. Not just sometimes. Not just when we’re feeling good about ourselves. No matter what happens, we have to play that way every night.”

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