Bucks top Lakers; Andre Drummond injured

LOS ANGELES – The Lakers already have LeBron James and Anthony Davis out with injuries. Newly signed center Andre Drummond was supposed to hold the fore down until either Davis or James or both join the team. It looks like Drummond will be sidelined for a minute himself after suffering a toe injury in the second quarter of the Lakers’ 112-97 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at STAPLES Center.

“I’m not really sure what to do. I’m going to talk to the training staff and find out what’s the best thing to do to get back as quick as possible,” Drummond told reporters during a postgame press conference.

Drummond got his first taste as a member of the Lakers.  Even though his debut ended prematurely, Drummond felt good being out on the court.

“In that first quarter a lot of energy from our guys and myself…we’re having a lot of fun out there,” Drummond said. “It’s just unfortunate for that to happen in the first game.”

That energy Drummond talked about fueled the Lakers to a 30-24 lead after the first quarter. In that period, the Lakers made 8 of 13 shots from three-point land. In the nearly seven minutes that he played in the quarter, Drummond managed to block a shot, grab a rebound, dish off two assists, and score a bucket.

The Lakers lost that momentum in the second quarter when Milwaukee blitzed them with 33 points. The Bucks made 13 of 19 shots in the period while holding the Lakers to just 19 points. That flipped the game in the Buck’s favor. After trailing the Lakers after the first period, Milwaukee outscored the Lakers over the last three quarters of the game.

That surge in the first quarter was a good one for the Lakers. The Lakers found themselves a plus six after one quarter. But then the bottom dropped. The Lakers ended the game a minus 15. Clearly, the presence and the subsequent absence of Drummond was the difference.

“He draws a lot of attention in the paint,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “During that stretch, we really shot the ball well from the perimeter, something we really put some good work in practice yesterday. It created a lot of open shots for guys to get some last shooting work. I thought that part paid off. We were playing the right way offensively, generating high-quality looks, and Andre rolling to the basket and being in the paint draws a lot of attention. Guys knocked down shots during that stretch. So, it definitely benefitted us.”

The elephant in the room is what’s next for Drummond and the Lakers? The obvious questions are how serious is the injury and how long will Drummond be out of the lineup? Drummond finished his opening night as a Laker with 14 minutes of playing action. He exited the game early in the third quarter with four points and picking up four fouls.

“I don’t know if he got stepped on or whatever, but it was really bothering him,” Vogel said. “He almost didn’t return after halftime. He gave it a run. You could that he was limping, so we got him out to see the doc[tor] to work on it a little bit but wasn’t able to return.”

Milwaukee took full advantage of the Lakers not having Drummond’s towering presence in the paint. The Bucks essentially put the game away in the third quarter with a 32-26 advantage. The Lakers made a semi-run late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late coming to the party.

Montrezl Harrell, who has been playing exceptionally well of late, led the Lakers with 19 points. Jrue Holiday poured in a game-high 28 points for the Bucks.

A one-game hiccup without James and Davis is not something to be concerned about. But possibly losing Drummond for an extended amount of time could be troubling for the Lakers. The signing of Drummond just solidified the Lakers’ quest to repeat as NBA champs. The forest duo of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee caused defensive havoc on opponents last season.

With those two players gone, the Lakers frontline of Drummond, Harrell, Davis, James, and Marc Gasol now could have devastating consequences on the rest of the league during the postseason and is even more formidable than the Lakers had last year. Though his debut was cut short by the toe injury, Drummond, who has averaged 14.6 points and 13.8 rebounds in his career, is relieved that it is not something to worry about long-term.

“I was definitely very happy to see the negative result on the X-ray,” Drummond said. “So, it’s a day-by-day, icing it, taking care of it, making sure I get it wrapped up to seal the missing toenail that’s not there.”

Drummond admitted this is the not first time that he has lost a toenail, but describes his latest injury as

“I’ve lost a toenail before, but this one was very painful,” Drummond said. “You see me looking down at it [be] cause I can’t even put shoes on it. I have my flip-flops right now, so it’s very, very painful.”

Featured Image: Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks against Los Angeles Lakers center Andre Drummond (2) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)