Anthony Davis just can't catch a break. The star Los Angeles Lakers big man missed two months recovering from an injury to his calf and Achilles tendon and has only recently returned to the floor. While he struggled at first, Davis has begun to find his groove in recent games. He led the Lakers to an important victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday, but on Thursday, he seemingly suffered another setback.
Early in the first quarter, Davis went up for a 3-pointer at the end of the shot-clock. He missed it, and while backpedaling, stepped awkwardly on the signage separating the court from the stands. He immediately fell to the floor, but got up and stayed in the game for several more minutes. However, he never returned to the game, which was ultimately a Clippers victory over the Lakers. On the play below, it appeared as though it was Davis' ankle that got hurt, but the Lakers ruled him out early in the third quarter due to, surprisingly, back spasms.
It is unclear whether this play led to the back spasms or if they were incidental. Davis may also have tweaked his ankle on the play, but if he did, that is apparently not what is keeping him out of the game. Either way, with the Clippers leading by double digits at halftime, the Lakers saw little reason to risk Davis in the second half. They predictably lost, 118-94.
On Friday, the Lakers will play what is by far the most important game left on their regular-season schedule against the Portland Trail Blazers. The two are tied in the standings, and the winning team will earn the tiebreaker over the other. After the game, Davis told reporters that he will fly with the team to Portland and see how he feels before the game, but that his ankle is fine and that the issue is his back. Despite the back issues, Davis was adamant that he expects to be able to play against the Trail Blazers but will still test things out prior to the game to make sure he is physically ready to take the floor.
"I should be good to go tomorrow, based on how it's feeling now," Davis said. "But I'm gonna still wake up and test it out. But my plan is to still go tomorrow."
Given what is at stake in the Lakers' matchup against the Trail Blazers, coupled with the fact the team is already shorthanded with LeBron James and Dennis Schroder out of the lineup, Los Angeles has to hope that Davis is good to go and has a standout performance in Portland. In the end, that could be the difference between avoiding the play-in tournament and locking up a top-six seed in the Western Conference.