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Key Lakers Bench Piece Plans to Return for Game 3

Darvin Ham and the Lakers are getting back a key bench player.

It has been more than two months since Christian Wood has played in a game for the Los Angeles Lakers. His last appearance came on Valentine’s Day against the Utah Jazz. The 28-year-old seems like he is nearing a return to the court for Los Angeles. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Wood believes he will return on Thursday. That will be Game 3 of their opening-round playoff matchup against the Denver Nuggets.

Key Lakers Bench Piece Plans to Return for Game 3

Why has Wood Been Absent From the Court?

A left knee injury has now sidelined Wood for more than two months. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on that knee, and the expectation was that he would miss the rest of the regular season with the potential to return sometime in the postseason.

Now in his eighth NBA season, Wood missed each of the last 26 regular season games. Prior to that, he had played in 50 of the Lakers’ first 56 games. On the season, Wood has averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds. His shooting numbers were down from previous years at 46.6% from the field and 30.7% from three-point territory. Wood remained unsigned for quite some time during this past offseason. He finally agreed to a two-year deal worth around $5.7 million to join the Lakers. Next season is a player option for a little over $3 million.

Productive on Bad Rockets Teams

Christian Wood started becoming a name in the league in 2019-20 with the Detroit Pistons. His two most productive seasons came with the Houston Rockets in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

While those Houston teams weren’t very good, Wood put up numbers. In 2020-21, he posted averages of 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds while finishing fourth in Most Improved Player voting. The following season, he averaged 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. In those two seasons, Wood combined to shoot 50.7% from the field and 38.4% from beyond the arc. Last season with the Dallas Mavericks, Wood finished ninth in the Sixth Man of the Year voting.

Will Wood be Able to Help the Lakers Finally Beat the Nuggets?

On Saturday night, Denver was able to defeat the Lakers 114-103 to take a 1-0 lead in their opening matchup. Game 2 will take place on Monday night. The Nuggets have owned Los Angeles of late. In last season’s Western Conference Finals, Denver swept the Lakers.

They also won four straight regular-season games against the Lakers. After their Game 1 win, Denver has won nine straight in the series. With a 1-0 advantage, the reigning champions are heavy favorites to advance to the second round. DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Nuggets at -650 favorites in the series.

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