Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis said he plans to return to the court on Thursday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers listed Davis as questionable for the contest but the player himself has reiterated he will play as long as he feels ready on game day.
Davis has missed over two months of the season with a calf injury that he described to reporters Wednesday as a “ripping” feeling when he aggravated it against the Denver Nuggets on February 14.
Earlier in the week, Lakers coach Frank Vogel hinted that Davis’ return was on the way, and his conditioning was the final step of the process.
“He’s healthy,” Vogel said. “But having not played and not really being able to ramp up his physical on-court activity over the last two months, it’s going to take some time before he gets his wind under him and obviously, that’s the biggest thing.
“Because if his legs aren’t under him, we don’t want him to be at risk for a re-aggravation of the injury or another injury. We want to keep a close eye on that.”
Davis has missed the last 30 games and the Lakers are just 14-16 without his services. In 23 appearances this season, the eight-time All-Star has averaged 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Once Davis is back, the final missing piece for the Lakers is LeBron James, who suffered a right high-ankle sprain on March 20. James began to do “light work” on the court again, according to Vogel.
“Even when Anthony returns, it’ll be in short, limited minutes,” Vogel added. “We’re still in a stretch where we’ve got to compete and win games for the most part without those (two) guys.”
Thursday’s game is the opener of a four-game road trip, beginning with two games in Dallas.
The Lakers are 6-10 without both Davis and LeBron, but as Shaun Powell of NBA.com notes, the 14-16 mark without AD (.467 win percentage) is better than the Washington Wizards with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook in the line-up (.421) and the New Orleans Pelicans (.431) with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Before their two stars went down, the Lakers were second in the West and only two games off the league-leading Utah Jazz.
They are now fifth and 8.5 games back, but as they slowly return to full health with the play-offs looming, you can’t rule a charge through the West to another championship out. Whichever seed they might end up with.
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