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LOS ANGELES — A day after Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s bruised left quad forced him out of Game 3 of L.A.’s first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Suns, the injury showed slight improvement and an MRI administered on Friday revealed no tear and no structural damage in the left knee, sources told ESPN.
He is day-to-day with what the Lakers called Friday a mild left knee contusion.
Caldwell-Pope exited the Lakers’ 109-95 win on Thursday with 4 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter after Suns guard Devin Booker backed into him while dribbling, making contact with the shooting guard’s leg and causing him to fall to the floor.
“I immediately felt pain when he bumped me, and it hyperextended,” Caldwell-Pope said afterward. “And it was painful enough where I couldn’t finish the game.”
Caldwell-Pope will see how his leg responds to rest and treatment on Saturday and then a determination will be made as to his status for Sunday’s Game 4 (3:30 ET, ABC), sources told ESPN.
Caldwell-Pope finished with five points, four rebounds and two steals on Thursday. For the series, he is averaging just 4 points on 22.2% shooting (8% from 3), 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, significantly down from his season scoring averages of 9.7 points on 43.1% from the field and 41% from the outside.
Late in Game 2, with Caldwell-Pope shooting 0-for-4 for the night, game broadcast cameras showed LeBron James standing face-to-face with Caldwell-Pope, imploring him to keep shooting when he is open.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that while L.A. values Caldwell-Pope’s long-range abilities, his defensive activity on Booker is of the utmost importance in the series.
“His primary role is to defend and to run the floor and provide that spacing when double-teams come, and some nights there’s going to be a lot of shots, some nights there’s not,” Vogel said. “But we just want him to remain confident, which he does.”
After scoring 65 points through the first two games of the series, Booker was kept in check in Game 3, totaling 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting and four turnovers before being ejected in the final minute for a flagrant foul 2 on Dennis Schroder.