Lakers Need Answer for Devin Booker if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Can’t Go

L.A.'s defense has led the way in 2-1 series lead over Phoenix
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The Los Angeles Lakers received some good news on Friday. An MRI revealed no structural damage to guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s left knee.

Caldwell-Pope instead has a mild bone bruise. He is listed as day-to-day, leaving the 28-year-old guard’s availability for Game 4 uncertain.

Caldwell-Pope suffered the injury in the third quarter of L.A.’s 109-102 victory of the Phoenix Suns in Game 3, appearing to hyperextend his left knee while handling his main assignment during the series, guarding Devin Booker.

Caldwell-Pope said after the game on Thursday that he’s a little sore, but with two days of rest he’s hopeful to be ready on Sunday.

“He kind of landed back into my leg and hyperextended it a little bit,” Caldwell-Pope said about the play. “Other than that, that was all that happened. I felt pain immediately when it hyperextended. And it was painful enough where I couldn’t finish the game.”

Booker has been Phoenix’s leading scorer in the series, averaging 28 points a contest. However, Caldwell-Pope has done a good job of forcing Booker into tough shots, making the All-Star shooting guard earn his points. Booker is shooting just 42 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc.

If Caldwell-Pope cannot play, Wesley Matthews could draw the assignment of defending Booker on Sunday. The defensive stopper has done a nice job of bringing energy off the bench for the Lakers and has shot the ball well from the perimeter in Game 3, making back-to-back three-pointers early in the fourth quarter to ignite an L.A. scoring spurt.

“I thought Wes Matthews -- game ball to him -- he did a good job of spreading the floor tonight,” LeBron James said after Game 3. “Opening the lanes up and opening the floor with the back-to-back threes that he had.”

The Lakers could use more of Matthews and others hitting shots from behind the arc to help open up things even more inside. As a team, the Lakers are shooting a dismal 27.6 percent from the three-point line during the series.

During the regular season, the Lakers shot 35.4 percent from the three-point line, No. 21 in the NBA. If Los Angeles could ever heat up consistently from three-point line during the playoffs -- look out.

“That’s when we’re dominant,” Frank Vogel said. “When we’re making 17 to 18 threes, and we’re defending the way we’re capable of and we have the basket attackers that we have, that’s when we’re at our best.

“But the shots aren’t always going to fall. Our guys played with great energy, great intensity. And sometimes that takes its toll on the shooter’s legs. But we have enough to win, even when the shots aren’t falling. That’s what our culture is built around. And when we are knocking down threes, and that will come, we are going to be tough to beat.”