Even though the Los Angeles Lakers came up short against the Dallas Mavericks in the first of their two-game miniseries on Thursday, the most important part of the night was Anthony Davis.
The Lakers superstar big man made his return after missing 30 straight games due to achilles and calf issues.
Davis was kept on a minutes restriction, playing 17 minutes, all in the first half and finishing with four points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. He shot just 2-for-10 from the field with many attempts coming from the midrange area.
Most importantly however, is that after the game Davis felt just good following his first in-game action in two months. “I felt fine,” Davis said after the loss.
“My wind felt better than I expected. I got good looks, I missed. Obviously, that comes with time and being able to get those game reps, but I felt good out there. I felt really good. I was able to do some things to give the team a little juice. … It’s just tough on you when you play and you have to watch the whole second half not being able to contribute on the floor, so that was the tough thing I felt for the most part.”
Stamina is something that head coach Frank Vogel stressed coming into the game. There is nothing that can replicate true NBA game speed and Davis getting his legs back under him is of the utmost importance. The Lakers want to take all precautions with Davis to ensure he will be good to go for the stretch run and playoffs and him feeling good after 15 minutes is a good sign moving forward.
The shooting percentage is the least of concerns for Davis and likely Vogel as well. As Davis noted, he had a number of good looks that simply didn’t fall and as he gets more comfortable, that is likely to change. As far as concerns, over his injury, Davis pushed that out of his mind.
“I didn’t think about it one time tonight. Honestly, I just went out there and played. I think it kind of limits what you do if you are out there thinking about your injury, so I just went out there and played. Not think about it and go out there and have fun.
“Being excited to be back out there on the floor was my main thing. I was just excited to be back on the floor with the guys, so I never thought about it. I never had it limit any moves.”
Plenty of players across all sports have issues when coming back from these kinds of injuries. It wouldn’t be shocking for Davis to be concerned about a possible Achilles tear considering that was a possibility at the time of the initial injury. But pushing those thoughts away allowed him to play freely on this night.
The Lakers surely would have loved to come away with the win, but getting Davis back healthy, and feeling good after the game is the most important victory they could have asked for.
Frank Vogel: Lakers ‘super excited’ to have Davis back on the court
Davis wasn’t the only person within the franchise feeling great after his return. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel expressed his excitement at seeing Davis back in the Purple and Gold.
“Great to see him back in a Lakers uniform and on the floor for us,” Vogel said. “Had a little bit of rust but I thought he played extremely well and we’re super excited to have him back out there.”
The numbers don’t matter on this night as Davis being back and feeling great means the Lakers are closer to being back at 100 percent and if that happens, the chances of repeating as NBA Champions increase massively.
Vogel also added that Davis’ workload could increase as soon as Saturday depending on how he feels after coming out of this one.
“It’s just predicated on how he responds to tonight’s work. He’ll be evaluated tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.”
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