After missing LeBron James in over 10 games in the first weeks of the 2021-22 season, the Los Angeles Lakers now have to figure out how to cope without Anthony Davis — who will be sidelined with an MCL sprain for at least a month.
L.A. immediately felt Davis’ absence after he suffered the knee injury in the 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Already down seven players due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the NBA, Los Angeles got badly outrebounded by their rivals, giving up 61 boards while collecting only 36.
The Timberwolves also outscored the Lakers 61-36 in the paint, leading to the end of their slender three-game winning streak.
L.A. fared significantly better in the clash against the Chicago Bulls two days later, although still fell 115-110 to end the road trip. David Fizdale, who took charge of the Purple and Gold due to head coach Frank Vogel entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols, said the team responded well to their leaders’ absence — particularly on the offensive end, by focusing on ball movement.
“Yeah, I think what the team really wrapped their mind around was how much we need to move the ball to be a good rhythm offensive basketball team,” Fizdale said.
“Because you don’t have AD to book in 22, 24, maybe 30 on some nights. You can’t book that, so you have to rely on the guy next to you to help you. Obviously, Russ and Bron can still go do it, Carmelo against certain matchups can still go do it, but the ball movement I was really happy with and I thought that they bought into that as a key to our game.”
Before the matchup with the Bulls, Fizdale said Davis’ injury means the Lakers have to rely more on team effort and better ball movement until the 28-year-old All-Star comes back.
“Even more so, we’ve got to rely on each other and we just got to continue to trust the past and trust the next man to do the job,” the coach said.
“I think we’re learning pretty early that we’re seeing some really good defense from a standpoint of how they load up against our best players and without AD in there we know that the way to make it up is with ball movement in second situations.”
Carmelo Anthony: Lakers can’t focus on things they can’t control
Even though Davis’ injury came at a time COVID-19 sidelined a third of the Lakers’ roster, Carmelo Anthony said the Purple and Gold have no other choice but to carry on with the season in spite of adversity.
“Strange. Tough,” Anthony said of the just-finished road trip during which the Lakers’ COVID-19 outbreak began.
“Not knowing who’s going to be in, not knowing who’s going to be out. Again, those are things we can’t control. Next-man up. We got to figure this out, but it’s not just us. It’s everybody. Chicago came off of two canceled games. They had a bunch of guys in protocol. It’s going around the league, it’s going around other leagues. This is reality, this is life. This is something that we have to deal with not just as basketball players, but as people in society.
“These are things that we’re dealing with right now.”
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