LOS ANGELES — Tristan Thompson had his two front teeth pushed back into his mouth by Lakers forward Julius Randle’s elbow on Sunday night, drawing blood and knocking the durable Cavs center from the game.
Thompson went straight to the locker room with 3:15 left in the third quarter of the Cavs’ 125-120 win and did not return. He was spitting blood and needed the Lakers’ team dentist to pull his teeth forward, back into place, and then secure them with metal braces.
Needless to say, Thompson did not return.
“If I didn’t have a good mouth guard, I’d have a tough time having a good dinner tonight, so, God bless my mouth guard,” Thompson said afterwards, showing off his braces to reporters. “It’s part of the game. Whoever says basketball ain’t a contact sport definitely lied.”
The contact was apparently inadvertent. Thompson finished with four points and 10 rebounds in this his 439th consecutive game — an NBA record among active players.
Thompson was asked if he was worried about the streak when Randle’s elbow first crashed into his mouth, and he said “no, I was worried about my mouth, making sure that my two front teeth didn’t fall out. I’m glad they’re here. Doc did a great job.”
Rich Paul, agent to Thompson, LeBron James, and J.R. Smith, left his courtside seat to check on Thompson in the locker room, and when he returned described the injury and procedure in great detail to Maverick Carter — who was also seated on the floor at Staples Center.
Thompson left the arena after speaking to reporters, hand in hand with girlfriend Khloe Kardashian.
Coach Tyronn Lue called the injury “nasty” and said Thompson was “messed up.”
But Lue also said he expected to be writing Thompson’s name in the lineup for Wednesday’s game in Denver.
“I doubt that,” Lue said, when asked if he thought Thompson’s streak was in jeopardy. “He was on the bench smiling with his mouthpiece in. I don’t think he feels too much pain.”
This was the third serious dental injury suffered by a Cavs player recently. DeAndre Liggins was knocked from the starting lineup moments before tipoff on Feb. 9 because of a dislodged tooth that caused a migraine.
On March 4 in Miami, Iman Shumpert was caught with an elbow by the Heat’s James Johnson and had his front teeth chipped.
“Well Shump ain’t have no teeth for a night, so I think I’m good,” Thompson said.