L.A. Notes: Vanderbilt, Wood, George, Leonard

Injured Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt (right midfoot sprain) and big man Christian Wood (left knee surgery) had both been aiming to return to action for Game 3 on Thursday, but it appears they’ll remain sidelined for at least one more game. Los Angeles has listed Vanderbilt and Wood as out on the official injury report.

As we noted on Tuesday, it’s unclear how much the Lakers would actually use Vanderbilt and/or Wood if they were available. Vanderbilt hasn’t played since February 1, while Wood has been on the shelf since February 14, so both players would likely have some rust to shake off in their first game back.

Still, the Lakers are already facing a 2-0 deficit against the defending-champion Nuggets, who have beaten them 10 times in a row dating back to the 2022/23 season. If Vanderbilt and Wood are available, it’s worth seeing if they can provide some sort of spark. However, it seems L.A. won’t get that chance until at least Game 4.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two L.A. teams:

  • As discouraging as their blown 20-point lead on Monday was, the Lakers were able to take some positives from their Game 2 performance during a Wednesday film session, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “We generated some great shots. We missed a lot of shots at the rim that we’ve been making throughout the course of this season,” said LeBron James, who went just 4-of-11 at the rim, per ESPN. Head coach Darvin Ham added that he likes film sessions because they remove “post-game emotions” and allow the team to zero in on specific areas to improve: “It’s not just, ‘We failed, let’s scrap the whole plan and go this way.’ No. You have to understand why things went the way they went.”
  • Three-and-a-half months after Kawhi Leonard signed an extension to remain with the Clippers, the team still doesn’t have a new deal in place with Paul George. However, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report says that multiple sources still expect George to re-sign with L.A., either via an extension or free agent contract.
  • Leonard and the Clippers struggled to find a rhythm on Tuesday in the star forward’s first game in April, but George is confident that it won’t take long for the club to get more comfortable, as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times relays. “I mean, y’all know this: Kawhi is one of the best in the world. He’s going to find his rhythm. We’re going to find our rhythm around him,” George said. “We feel good about it despite … I don’t ever like to take or look at the moral victories. We lost (Game 2), which is frustrating and upsetting, but it is great having … (Leonard) back out there with us and we’ll all adjust. We’ll get our timing back, our rhythm back and getting a better flow.”
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