The Los Angeles Lakers lost a pivotal Game 4 to the Phoenix Suns, though most of the blame can be attributed to the loss of Anthony Davis.
Davis was ruled out for the second half due to a groin injury he suffered in the second quarter and the Lakers predictably struggled without him on the floor. Los Angeles was outscored 27-15 in the third and although they managed to pull within single digits in the fourth it was all for naught as Jae Crowder nailed a corner 3-pointer to ice the game.
Head coach Frank Vogel confirmed in his postgame conference that Davis indeed suffered a groin injury and would be further evaluated.
“He has a strained groin and he’s going further medical evaluation and we’ll have more information tomorrow.”
It was later reported that Davis is considered day-to-day and has a chance to play in Game 5, although with a quick turnaround it remains to be seen if that will be the case.
Despite Davis’ health, Vogel remained optimistic about the Lakers’ chances in this series and noted that James has shown that he can carry a team when called upon, as the coach has seen first-hand.
“When I competed against the Miami Heat and either [Dwyane] Wade or [Chris] Bosh was out and there was more touches for Bron, that wasn’t always necessarily a good thing for my [Indiana] Pacers teams,” Vogel said.
“It’s just going to be more opportunity for Bron and obviously, we need other guys to step up. Not one other guy, but everybody. It’s got to be a group effort. We need contributions from everyone and we did have a stretch like this where we did play without AD that we’ll draw on to take us into Game 5 if AD is not available.”
Even though James is also not at 100 percent himself, he has shown flashes of burst and explosiveness and that will be the key heading into Game 5. The Suns have done a great job of packing the paint and closing any driving lanes, but each time James has seen daylight he has been able to take full advantage and get all the way to the rim for either layups or free throws.
However, it remains to be seen if James can stay in high gear for an entire game as there are stretches where he has been happy to defer to others and float on a play. While he will surely come out more aggressive and look to score, Phoenix will have an easier time sending defensive attention his way which means the role players will need to step up and hit shots.
Vogel believes big men will have to pick up load offensively
The Lakers surprisingly outshot the Suns from beyond the arc in Game 4 as they converted 13-of-40 of their attempts compared to 10-of-35 for Phoenix. Despite the advantage, Los Angeles will need to shoot the deep ball at a higher and more efficient clip in order to make up the difference if Davis is held out of Game 5.
Vogel also feels the big men can have a better scoring output, which he tried to make happen in the second half in Game 4.
“We’re looking to score the ball. There are a lot of ways that we play the personnel skill set of the guys we have out there. Obviously, a lot of it is through Bron. We played with the roller with Drumm. Looked for a spark with Trezz. Space the floor with Marc [Gasol] and we just didn’t get enough offensive output in that second half.”
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