Even without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers have managed to keep their heads above water in the standings.
The Lakers currently sit in fifth in the Western Conference playoff race, staying comfortable ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks. There was some concern that Los Angeles could slip in the standings and be forced in the play-in tournament, but that possibility does not seem likely anymore given their recent performances.
There is confidence the team will find its stride again soon, especially since Davis’ return seems imminent. Although he was ruled out against the Utah Jazz on Monday night, head coach Frank Vogel said he could suit up as soon as Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks.
“He had some good work in today,” Vogel said before Monday night’s game. “He’s not going to play tonight. He got some good work in after our team meeting this morning. He’s going to continue to build up over the next two days and see how he’s feeling going into that Dallas [Mavericks] game, but he will not be available tonight.”
Vogel also acknowledged that Davis’ stamina and energy after being out for over two months are things he and the staff will be monitoring.
“The biggest thing is conditioning right now,” explained Vogel. “He’s healthy, but having not played and not really been able to ramp up his physical on-court activity over the last two months, it’s going to take some time before he gets his wind under him. Obviously, that’s the biggest thing because if his legs aren’t under him then we don’t want him to be at risk for reaggravation of the injury or another injury, so we want to keep a close eye on that.
“Beyond that, it’s the rhythm and timing piece where there’s going to be some rust. We understand that going in and that’s some of the stuff we’re working on this week.”
Vogel previously noted that when Davis does get back on the floor he will be playing on a minutes restriction, but just having him back will be a welcomed sight for the Lakers. Even though they have learned to play without their star big man, the Lakers sorely miss his presence on both ends of the floor.
Anthony Davis stayed patient while injured
It can be frustrating to sit out for an extended period of time, but Vogel credited Davis for being able to stay patient while he rehabbed.
“My sense is that it’s been right where it should be,” Vogel said. “Big-picture mindset, he wants to be out there for his teammates and wants to compete. Misses being out there, but understands the value in handling this injury the right way. So he’s eager to get back out, but wants to do it the right way.”
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