LOS ANGELES — What was already going to be a rough night for the Lakers — going against one of the West’s top teams in the Clippers while without LeBron James, Dennis Schroder, or Talen Horton-Tucker — became downright ugly when Anthony Davis was forced out of the game with back spasms.
Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be as bad as first feared and he expects to be able to play in a critical playoff seeding game against the Trail Blazers on Friday night in Portland.
“[My] Ankle is fine, it wasn’t bothering me, but my back locked up pretty bad…” Davis said after the game, adding he got treatment throughout the rest of the game. “We’ll see how it is tomorrow morning. I should be good to go tomorrow based on how it’s feeling now.”
With 8:49 left in the first quarter, Davis launched a late-clock three over Marcus Morris, and as he backpedaled away from the shot his foot hit the courtside signage in front of the scorer’s table and he went to the ground. Davis clearly tweaked his ankle and grabbed it, retied his shoe, stretched it out but stayed in the game another six minutes.
Davis left the game at the 2:50 mark of the first quarter, with the Lakers down 24-14. He did not return. After halftime, the Lakers announced Davis was out for the rest of the game with back spasms.
“There was no certain play [that caused the back spasms], it’s just during the first timeout, and the second one I felt it lock up more and more,” Davis said. “When I first came out with like three minutes left it was pretty bad.”
The Lakers boarded a plane after the game to fly to Portland for a key showdown with the Trail Blazers — the two teams are tied for the No. 6 and 7 seeds in the West, and Friday’s game will go a long way to determining who gets the six seed and avoids the play-in, and who has to play the extra games. Both teams are one game back of No. 5 seed Dallas (which beat Brooklyn on Thursday).
Davis said the importance of the game gives him extra motivation to get on the court Friday, but he has to see how his back feels the next day (a long late-night flight to Portland is not ideal for that situation). LeBron (sore ankle) and Schroder (health and safety protocols) will be out for that game.
Thursday night, without their three best players and every quality shot creator on the roster out much of the night, the Lakers were no match for the Clippers, who led by 13 in the first quarter, stretched that out to 23 by halftime, and cruised from there to a 118-94 victory. Paul George scored 24 to lead a balanced Clippers attack that saw all five starters and a couple of bench players in double figures.
The Clippers just played their game — they shot 11-of-19 from 3 in the first half and, as they have done better of late, also got to the rim and drew fouls. The Lakers were not able to contain Clippers’ dribble penetration, leading to a lot of kick-out 3s, and they had defensive lapses such as letting Kawhi Leonard walk into an open 3 in the first half. The Lakers dug themselves a hole and didn’t have the offensive firepower to climb out of it Thursday night.
With the win, the Clippers moved half a game in front of Denver for the No. 3 seed in the West, although the teams remain tied in the loss column.
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points.