With no one even close to him, Kent Bazemore stood at the top of the key, studying the defense and looking at how he could attack.
But before the former Warrior could even shoot, dribble or drive past Clippers guard Darren Collison, Bazemore felt what he called "a little pop" in his right foot before falling to the floor. Bazemore recalled feeling a similar sensation when he fractured his left foot before his senior year at Old Dominion, an injury that ultimately required a permanent screw placed in his left foot.
Bazemore's latest injury will keep out him out for the rest of the season after an MRI on Monday revealed a torn tendon in his left foot that will require surgery. That puts the Lakers (25-52) heading into Tuesday's game against the Houston Rockets (51-25) at Staples Center fielding nearly as many injured players (seven) as healthy ones (eight) available enough to play.
The Lakers have already penciled out Pau Gasol, who has missed seven of the past eight games because of vertigo. Chris Kaman (strained right calf) is listed as doubtful, while Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back) is listed as questionable.
Although Jordan Farmar has said he will play tonight after sitting out the past 11 games because of a strained right groin, the Lakers are also listing him as questionable. Meanwhile, the Lakers also have season-ending injuries to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee) and Xavier Henry (torn ligament in left wrist, bone bruise in right knee).
"It was an overuse injury," Bazemore said. "It's no one's fault. It's just the penalty of working hard and playing a lot of minutes. It happens."
The Lakers acquired Bazemore from Golden State before the trade deadline and he has averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28 minutes through 23 games with the Lakers, a sharp increase from the 2.3 points-per-game average in 6.1 minutes in 44 contests this season with the Warriors.
Bazemore's latest injury should open up time for a flurry of wing players, including Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and possibly even Marshon Brooks, who has appeared in nine of the last 15 games. He has averaged seven points in 15 games since the Lakers acquired him in the Golden State deal, which sent Steve Blake to the Warriors.
Bazemore, 24, will become a restricted free agent in July after making $762,195 this season. The Lakers have liked Bazemore's energy, defense and willingness to correct his mistakes, including his shot selection and playmaking.