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Lakers' Davis sidelined until after All-Star break

By Dan Woike
Los Angeles Times/TNS
Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass the ball in the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on Feb. 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, Ca. Davis will be sidelined, possibly through the All-Star break, as the team waits for his lower right leg to heal.

The Lakers will be without Anthony Davis, possibly through the All-Star break, as the team waits for his lower right leg to heal. But most importantly, there’s optimism that he will, in fact, heal.

Davis’ long, slow shuffle to the Lakers’ locker room Sunday during the team’s loss to the Nuggets had some fearing the worst - a season-ending torn Achilles tendon, which could seriously impact the Lakers’ hopes of defending the NBA championship.

The team announced Davis did not rupture his Achilles tendon, saying he’d be reevaluated once he’s back in Los Angeles.

He underwent an MRI exam on Monday in Denver before the team traveled to Minnesota ahead of Tuesday’s game, with the imaging showing a strain to his calf muscle. Davis is also dealing with Achilles tendonosis, an injury that kept him out of two games last week before returning to action Friday against Memphis.

The plan is for the team and Davis to be conservative in his return from the injury. The Lakers have nine more games scheduled before the midseason All-Star break and a return to the court before then seems improbable.

Even before the severity of the injury was known, LeBron James was advocating for patience.

“All I care about is his health. I want him to be healthy. Our team needs him to be healthy,” James said after Sunday’s game. “… No rush. No timetable. We have no idea from that aspect. We just want him to be healthy and get back to full strength.”

Davis reaggravated the previous Achilles injury in the second quarter Sunday night on a drive to the basket. As he moved past Denver center Nikola Jokic, Davis began limping before shooting two free throws and then hobbling off the floor.

“I think that last step kind of reaggravated the injury I already had,” he said after the game.

Kyle Kuzma started in Davis’ place at the beginning of the third quarter.

“I think today was the first day where it felt completely fine,” Davis said on Sunday. “Didn’t feel it at all this morning, afternoon, pregame, anything. So, it just felt like we were headed in the right direction on the treatment side, the rehab side - and you know, another setback.”

Davis said the Lakers’ initial examination left room for optimism that he had avoided the worst possible fate for his Achilles. But it’s been problematic enough to cost him time on two separate occasions.

“If I feel I can go out there and play, I will. Just for the simple fact that I want to be able to help my team. And I can help my team from the sidelines, but I think I’m more effective when I’m on the floor,” Davis said. “And they pay me to play. I go out there and try to compete at the highest level and do what I can to help this team. And so, if that means me going out there and playing through some minor bumps and bruises, then that’s what it is. But this one is a little different that I definitely have to be smart with.”

In 23 games this season, Davis is averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds. He’s missed five games already this season with more now on the horizon. The Lakers play at Minnesota on Tuesday, and have tough games with Brooklyn, Utah, Portland, Golden State and Phoenix on their schedule before the All-Star break.

“You don’t want to mess around with this type of injury,” Davis said Sunday night.