LOS ANGELES — In a move the Lakers hope will salvage their playoff fortunes, forward Anthony Davis will play in a potentially decisive Game 6 of the team’s first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday at Staples Center after missing the second half of Game 4 and all of Game 5 because of a strained left groin.
The Lakers will also have guard Kentavious Caldwell Pope who missed Game 4 and played only 15 minutes in Game 5 because of a sore left knee.
“It’s just a feel thing,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ll be communicating with the medical team throughout and the coaching staff and I will be evaluating and measuring how well those guys are moving when they’re in there.”
After Wednesday’s practice, Davis reported that his groin was “getting better each day” and has been receiving “treatment around the clock” after he strained it late in the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 loss. But Davis expressed uncertainty with his availability considering the Lakers’ medical staff did not clear him to play in Game 5 following his pre-game workout.
Then, Davis said he felt “fine” after completing spot shooting drills. But he said that subsequent running drills “bothered him.” It appears that was no longer an issue after Thursday’s pre-game workout.
Did the Lakers’ medical staff evaluate Davis differently because the Lakers face a potential elimination game? Or did Davis simply make enough progress after the Lakers struggled without him in their Game 5 loss?
“He’s doing everything he can. But at the end of the day, he has to be cleared by the doctors,” Vogel said beforehand. “We don’t want to do anything that’s unintelligent for his body that’s going to create something long term. He has to be cleared, but he very strongly wants to be in there.”
Although Davis played through a hyperextended left knee in both the Lakers’ Game 3 win and Game 4 loss to Phoenix, he conceded the correlation between both injuries.
Davis injured his knee following a chase-down block on Suns guard Devin Booker with 2:36 left in the second quarter. Still, Davis stayed in the game and eventually finished with a team-leading 34 points. Then in Game 4, Davis injured his left groin after landing hard on the floor following a missed layup with 48.3 seconds left in the first half. Davis then missed the entire second half after finishing with six points on only 2-of-9 shooting.
“They told me everything’s connected, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Davis, who also missed 30 games this season with a strained right calf. “The groin happened because of the tightness in the knee.”
Therefore, Vogel sounded flexible with Davis’ role and playing time to account for any limitations.
“It’s something we have to feel out throughout the game,” Vogel said. “We start out in a normal way and evaluate how he’s moving and see if he has to adjust.”