The Lakers’ fight to gain ground in the Western Conference play-in tournament became a lot harder just before the All-Star break when, for the second time this season, Anthony Davis fell to the floor with a freak injury during the team’s Feb. 16 win over the Utah Jazz.
Davis was preliminarily diagnosed with an ankle sprain and expected to be out at least two weeks, but that timeframe was quickly expanded to at least four weeks when MRIs revealed that Davis had a mid-foot sprain instead. And according to people far more knowledgeable about these things than I am, that can be a pretty bothersome injury.
The average time lost for nondescript midfoot sprains resulting in time lost is 12 games (~28 days) but the Lakers are already saying he will be miss four weeks before being reevaluated. I wouldn't be surprised if this stretches out longer.— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) February 18, 2022
So in that context, the latest update about Davis isn’t too surprising, but it’s still depressing, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (emphasis mine):
The Lakers dropped to 27-32 with Friday’s loss to the Clippers, ninth in the Western Conference and playing without Davis for what sources told ESPN are likely another four to five weeks with a right mid-foot sprain.
If Davis were to miss four more weeks from this report on Friday, that would put him at approximately a March 25 return, while five weeks would cost him until at least April 1. For context, the former scenario would see Davis return with about nine games left to play, while the latter would leave him with just about six games to ramp up before the play-in.
It’s already been a little over a week since Davis went down, so this report would put him right around a six-week timeframe in total. It’s another injury-marred season for the NBA 75 team member, who already missed about a month in December and January due to a right knee sprain suffered when a Minnesota Timberwolves player collided with him on Dec. 17.
Until Davis gets back, the Lakers will once again be forced to keep on fighting for their playoff lives without their star big man. Though Davis hasn’t played up to his current level this year thanks in part to his injuries, games like Friday’s close loss to the Clippers show just how much he is missed. With Davis sidelined and the aging Dwight Howard gassed after a herculean effort in the first half to keep the Lakers in the game, the Clippers targeted the Lakers’ small-ball pick-and-roll defense, getting easy looks around the rim while the Lakers could not come up with a stop and ultimately blew a late five-point lead.
Though the Lakers’ defense has struggled this year regardless of who was on the floor, it’s hard to imagine the Clippers having as much success as they did in the pick-and-roll with Davis patrolling the paint.
Frank Vogel will have to continue to make do without Davis, though, which means we may be seeing a lot more of Howard (and maybe even fellow backup center DeAndre Jordan). Both players have had superb NBA careers but are now at the tail end of those careers, and it’s been clear for a while now that they have very little left in the tank. But with no better options, Lakers fans had better hope there’s enough in those nearly-seven-foot-tall reserves to help keep the team somewhat afloat until Davis gets back. Gulp.