Friday, October 7 2022
Los Angeles, California April 3, 2022- Lakers Anthony Davis holds is leg during a break in play against the Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena Sunday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
Lakers forward Anthony Davis bends over and holds his right leg during a break in play Sunday at Crypto.com Arena. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Anthony Davis, playing with tremendous pain in his right foot, stepped toward, and then around, Denver’s Nikola Jokic in the first quarter Sunday. As he drew contact and scored, he landed oddly and immediately glanced at the ground.

He grimaced. He then shot, and made, the free throw. Then he limped back down the court to play defense.

A few moments later, Davis was on the bench, looking down at his right foot, his shoe completely off, while he waited for his next shift on the court. He returned, playing nearly 35 minutes as the Lakers came up short against Denver, 129-118.

In just his second game back since injuring that foot before the All-Star break, Davis has played through considerable discomfort in an effort to try to get the Lakers into the final spot of the NBA’s play-in tournament.

“At this point, I know what we’re playing for,” Davis said. “If I’ve got to go through this pain — hopefully it’s not the last four games, hopefully it’s more — then, so be it. I know that, me, myself and my team, know I left it out on the floor. Just like I did in the playoffs last year as well. Give myself a chance — and help give our team chance.

“I’m not going to sit down and quit if I feel like I can at least get out there. If I’m 60%, 70%, whatever, I think my 70% is better than a lot of guys’ 100%. I want to help the team.”

In the Lakers’ loss to Denver Sunday, Davis had 28 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. In his return to action Friday after missing 18 games, he scored 23 points to go with 12 rebounds and six assists.

Trolled online and by TV analysts after two straight years with significant injury absences, Davis fired back at his critics Sunday in a one-on-one interview with The Times.

“This is what I’ve learned about injuries: Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were saying ‘AD’s giving up on his team. It’s the playoffs. AD has to play. He’s got to play.’ And when I went out there to play, got hurt again, they said, ‘Who was his trainer? Who let him play?’

“So, what the [expletive] do you want me to do? When I play, it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I don’t play. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and how my body feels. And we go from there. I’m not worried about who’s saying what or who thinks this about me because none of them have stepped on the floor and played. And the ones that did play, they should understand.

“These aren’t little ticky-tack injuries.”

In his third season with the Lakers, Davis has played in only 39 games. Last season, following a short offseason during which he focused on recovery more so than getting into shape, Davis played 36 games before getting reinjured in the playoffs.

The injury-prone label had been placed on Davis before arriving in Los Angeles, and while last season added evidence to that, this season’s problems can be attributed to bad luck more than anything else.

Davis missed more than a month with a knee injury after LeBron James accidentally knocked Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels into the side of Davis’ leg. After a 10-game return, Davis injured his foot after stepping on the foot of Utah center Rudy Gobert and missed another month and a half.

The fluke nature of the injuries have helped keep him from getting too discouraged.

“The real basketball guys know that there’s nothing I could’ve done in these situations,” Davis said. “What? Move out the way? I keep that attitude because, one, my wife makes me, and two, it’s knowing that these really weren’t my fault. How can I be down or upset or care what people are saying? It could’ve been anybody. I could wear shoes that come up to my knees.

“There’s not one player in the world who could step on somebody’s foot from the air and not roll your ankle. It doesn’t matter the shoe. You step on somebody’s foot, you’re going to roll your ankle.”

After starting the season with a goal of being consistently available for the Lakers, after working hard to be in better physical shape to avoid injury problems, Davis walked out of the Lakers’ home arena late Sunday afternoon frustrated by the results.

His team was in 11th place. His foot was sore. And it all felt out of his control.

“I did bust my ass,” Davis said. “And I had two uncontrollable injuries.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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