Los Angeles Lakers star big man Anthony Davis aggravated tendinosis in his right Achilles, causing swelling, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and was held out of the second half of Sunday’s 122-105 loss at the Denver Nuggets.
Davis missed two games earlier this week with the injury. The Lakers officially termed it a right Achilles strain and said Davis will undergo an MRI on Monday in Minneapolis, after the team’s flight.
“I mean, you kind of learn a lot from the MRI, so kind of just waiting on that,” Davis told reporters after Sunday’s contest when asked if he knew if he tore the tendon. “Obviously, the doctors don’t want to rule out anything and then it’s something, or say it’s something, then it’s not. But they say everything looks good, but you still want the MRI just to make sure.”
Davis, 27, was listed as questionable before the game but nevertheless started, with the Lakers looking to extend their seven-game winning streak.
“I think [Sunday] was the first day where it felt completely fine,” Davis said. “Didn’t feel it at all this morning, afternoon, pregame, anything.”
That changed when Davis drove on Nikola Jokic late in the second quarter and bumped legs with the Nuggets center. Jokic’s right knee made contact with Davis’ right quad. When Davis gathered his dribble after the foul was called and planted his foot, he appeared to aggravate his lower right leg. He clutched his leg below his calf after the play was whistled dead.
Davis stayed in the game to take two free throws, making both, then checked out with 2:36 remaining in the second quarter and limped toward the locker room with Lakers assistant athletic trainer Jon Ishop by his side.
“Just overall safety and health of him,” LeBron James said when asked what went through his mind seeing Davis leave the game. “That’s my only concern watching him shuffle off the floor and get back into the locker room. We were playing some great basketball up until then.”
L.A. was down by five points at the time of Davis’ injury but went on to trail by as many as 21, falling to the team it beat in last season’s Western Conference finals.
The nine-year veteran has been experiencing discomfort in his lower right leg for weeks and underwent an ultrasound last weekend, which confirmed the injury.
Davis sat out two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and returned for Friday’s 115-105 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, against whom he scored 35 points on 16-for-27 shooting — two off his season high in scoring. He was adamant he did not rush back too soon, even though he acknowledged feeling soreness toward the end of the Memphis game.
“I felt great coming back the first time against Memphis, and I’m gonna do the same thing, the same steps to get it back right,” he said. “Obviously, be a little more smarter with it, like I was smart the first time, but even more smarter. Up the treatment more — instead of three times a day, maybe five times a day just trying to get it back where it needs to be done out there and help the team.”
To mitigate the pain, Davis said he keeps a padded heel lift in his sneaker and wears a sleeve when he sleeps that keeps his Achilles in a stretched position.
Davis scored 15 points in 14 minutes with four rebounds and an assist before exiting Sunday’s game. Kyle Kuzma started the second half in his place.
Kuzma finished with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting and eight rebounds and vowed he will be ready to continue to fill in.
“I’m always ready,” said the 25-year-old forward, who was awarded a $40 million contract extension in the offseason. “I’m always ready to do whatever the coaches ask of me, whatever the team asks, whatever the ballclub needs. That’s just how I am.”
Davis, whom Lakers coach Frank Vogel said was in “good spirits,” expressed hope that he suffered only a minor setback.
“I do put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and play. If I feel I can go out there and play, I will. Just for the simple fact that I want to be able to help my team. And I can help my team from the sidelines, but I think I’m more effective when I’m on the floor. And they pay me to play,” Davis said.
“But this one is a little different that I definitely have to be smart with. I don’t want to go out there and try to play and risk it for the long term. So, all that is inclusive of what the MRI shows tomorrow. Knock on wood, it’s great information — and I’ll be out there sooner than later.”