Frank Vogel: Having Anthony Davis As Lakers’ Defensive Anchor Was ‘Sorely Missed’
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers saw their Big 3 share the court for just the 16th time this season thanks to Anthony Davis’ return from injury in the 106-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis missed 17 games due to an MCL sprain with L.A. going 7-10 during that stretch. His comeback provided the Lakers with a major boost on the defensive end, as evidenced by the forward’s two early blocks on James Harden on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old All-Star spent just over 24 minutes in play, finishing the night with eight points, four blocks as well as a couple of rebounds and assists. But head coach Frank Vogel said the Lakers already felt the forward’s impact on the court despite him playing in short bursts.

“I thought he really changed things defensively at the rim with his hands and his deflections,” Vogel said. “Obviously, not a big scoring night, but his anchor to our defense is something that’s been sorely missed and the ability to mix pitches with him being a five-man and a rim protector and then going centerless when he’s out is something that we envision will be really good for us.

“It’s a great opportunity to make a late push in the regular season and into the playoffs.”

Vogel added that even though Davis had missed over a month with his knee injury, he didn’t seem to struggle with rustiness that typically accumulates when players stay away from the court.

“He looked like he was moving well,” the head coach said. “We were cautious to make sure we didn’t keep his runs too long like he typically has. We’ll build up to that. But I didn’t think there was a moment other than a couple finishes around the basket and a short jumper that he missed that he looked out of sync.

“For the most part, he looked really good and those little finishes will come.”

Vogel felt ‘relief’ when he learned Davis would miss only a month with MCL sprain

Vogel admitted to “fearing the worst” when he saw Davis injure his knee in the mid-December loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The head coach added he sighed with relief when the medical staff estimated the forward would return in about a month.

“For me, I definitely did view it as good news,” Vogel said. “When you see somebody roll into your knee, an important player’s knee like that, obviously you fear the worst. To hear that he was only going to be out 4-6 weeks or so, felt manageable and was definitely good news.

“So there was relief there and excitement looking forward to the time he gets back, which is now.”

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