LOS ANGELES (AP) – When Anthony Davis’ right leg became too painful to play on two months ago, the biguntil he was completely ready to be himself again. Two , Davis is confident that time has arrived, with 14 regular-season games left in the Lakers’ push to defend their NBA title. Davis intends to play when the Lakers open a four-game road trip at Dallas, he said after a workout at the team’s training complex. He hasn’t suited up since Feb. 14, February 14 Los Angeles’ last 30 games in the most prolonged injury absence of his nine-year NBA career.
“I wanted to make sure I was100% because it wouldn’t be fair to myself or my team,” Davis said Wednesday. “I feel great. In these last to the playoffs, many teams aren’t healthy, and many players aren’t healthy. I’m 100%, and we’ve got Bron . Who’s going to be 100% healthy? I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
Indeed, the Lakers (35-23) have managed to stay in the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings despite playing without Davis for nine weeks and withoutsince March 20. March 20rs went 14-16 without Davis, and they’re 7-9 since both Davis and James went down. Coach Frank Vogel said James is still “probably a couple of weeks or so” away from returning from his . Davis will start when he returns but only play about 15 minutes in his first . Vogel intends to monitor his superstar’s acclimation closely, and his return could be another game if Davis feels sore on Thursday morning.
“Honestly, if you’re out for this long, it usually takes a couple of weeks tohave your legs under you, and your rhythm and timing is back,” Vogel said. “It’s going to take some time, and as far as the minute’s restriction, it’s going to be evaluated daily.”
Davis and James’s absences were potentially a massive setback for the Lakers’ repeat hopes. But now that the Lakers’ supporting cast has made it nearly confident the team is still playoff-bound, the Lakers are about to have two rested, hungry superstars when the postseason begins in a month. Davis’ injury left him in severe pain in his right heel and calf during his final game at Denver on Valentine’s Day. After the short turnaround from the Lakers’ playoff run in the Florida bubble, the big man had already skipped a handful of games early in the. Still, the shock of that last escalation in his leg woes caught Davis’ attention.
“It was something I’ve never felt before as far as pain,” Davis said. “I didn’t want to have to go through that again. … I’ve felt pain there before, just going through the process the first time I injured it, but the– knock on wood, I never tore an Achilles, but I felt like a sharp pain like it was ripping, which I never felt before. It was tough to flex my foot. I knew it was something serious. It wasn’t as serious as it could have been, but it was still a significant injury.” So the Lakers shut down Davis near the midpoint of this unusual . Los Angeles scuffled through the , going 7-7 until James went down with his sprained ankle.
And yet, the absence of their two roster cornerstones still hasn’t sunk the Lakers. With Dennis Schröder, Montrezl Harrell, and Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles has played roughly .500 ball and dropped only from second to fifth in the conference standings, staying right behind Denver. Davis and James have been with the , and Davis sees benefits beyond rest from his time on the sidelines. “I think that’s how I stayed engaged and got my fix not being able to play, just being in the gym with the guys and breaking down the games for them and helping them learn,” Davis said. “It kind of helped me become a better leader as well. It was good for me, but I think it was also good for them to hear my voice.”