Source – Lakers' Jared Vanderbilt targets a Game 3 comeback

Source – Lakers' Jared Vanderbilt targets a Game 3 comeback

DENVER — Lakers forward Jared Vanderbilt, who has been sidelined since Feb. 1 with a right midfoot sprain, is targeting a return once Game 3 of Los Angeles' first-round series against the Denver Nuggets concludes, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN.

The source told ESPN that Vanderbilt has been stepping up his on-court workouts over the past two weeks, participating in one of his most intense practices as of Monday morning at Ball Arena.

Vanderbilt's availability will be determined based on how his body responds in the coming days leading up to Thursday's Game 3 in Los Angeles.

Both Vanderbilt and Lakers reserve big man Christian Wood have not been cleared to return as of Monday, a team source told ESPN, but Los Angeles remains “hopeful” both players can return against Denver.

Wood has been sidelined since February 14 due to an injury to his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery in March.

“We'll see how he reacts to what he did today,” Lakers coach Darvin Hamm said when asked about Vanderbilt's morning practice. “However, nothing will change regarding the new information. It is just an everyday thing. So we have to see how he handles the recovery process. He gave his effort at a very high level today. So we will see how he feels tomorrow, we will continue to work day by day.”

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Known for his defensive impact, the 25-year-old Vanderbilt was in one of the best offensive situations of his career before suffering the injury nearly three months ago in the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics.

In Vanderbilt's final eight games before injuring his foot, he averaged 10.5 points on 66% shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals. In the last six of those games, Vanderbilt is averaging 11.3 points — the highest points per game average over a six-game span of his six-year career, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

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