The Los Angeles Lakers have been hit hard by injuries in the last three months, disrupting their title pursuit during the tumultuous 2020-21 season.
L.A.’s two biggest stars suffered the most severe injuries. Anthony Davis missed 30 games with an Achilles problem before making his return at the end of April and LeBron James joined the All-Star forward on the sidelines in mid-March with a high ankle sprain.
The four-time NBA champion came back on April 30 for a clash against the Sacramento Kings but two days later came off the floor early in the loss to the Toronto Raptors, appearing to still be feeling soreness from his injury. With L.A. already playing without Dennis Schroder, ruled out due to health and safety protocols, James sat out the 93-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets and could miss further games due to discomfort in his ankle.
Davis said the latest blow was disappointing but added the Lakers were prepared to play without the 36-year-old All-Star again after the rough past months. “It was nothing out of the ordinary for us,” he said.
“It’s been all season for us whether it’s health and safety protocols or someone is injured. It’s kind of been what has been happening to us all year. We had the mindset of and I had the mindset of next guy, next man up. No matter who is on the floor, the five that’s on the floor we got to compete and that’s all we did tonight was compete.”
With Kyle Kuzma joining the other Lakers role player, Alex Caruso, in the starting lineup, L.A. managed to surprise the Nuggets and chalk up the team’s second with in the last eight games. Davis praised his teammates for stepping up in another tough stretch for the defending NBA champions. “Wes [Matthews] hadn’t played in a while and was able to come in and play huge for us,” he said.
“Two big threes and key plays defensively. Marc [Gasol], same thing. There’s always a next man up and we were able to do that tonight. Obviously, it sucks not having our two points guards, but AC came in that role and played huge for us, so we got to hold the fort down until we get those guys back.”
Davis says his Achilles hasn’t bothered him after return
Unlike James, Davis appears to have put his Achilles injury behind him. The 28-year-old forward said the tendon hasn’t bothered him since making his return. “I’m not worried about that at all,” Davis said. “There’s not one time I’ve thought about it since I’ve been back playing.
“I think I’ve done enough in the past nine weeks to strengthen it where I don’t have to think about it so now I just go out there and focus on the game of basketball and helping the team win.”
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