By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
It’s been a rugged season for the Los Angeles Lakers as they started with high hopes until the injury bug stepped in and sidelined Anthony Davis first with a sore calf and missed a big chunk of games. LeBron James then went down with a bad ankle injury.
Davis return has had been moderate, then last week he looked like the Davis of old. He busted out with 36 points and 12 rebounds in a tough 106-101 loss to Portland on the road. He had 10 points in the fourth period including seven straight late in the quarter bringing the Lakers to a 100-97 deficit with 1:10 left. He played 39 minutes that night and had five assists.
“I feel good. I feel good,” Davis said after the game by Zoom. “Put me on the floor, I’m going to do as much as I can to help the team win. I feel like I’m getting my legs back under me. I’m getting a rhythm. So I think the minutes might get back extended. Technically I didn’t play last night so I had a little more juice.
The night before against the Clippers Davis left the game early due to back spasms only playing just nine minutes.
The loss gives the Blazers who are in sixth place in the Western Conference standings the edge for the NBA’s new playoff format.
The following game saw the Lakers take on high-flying Phoenix who have one of the best team record in recent years. Led by former Clipper Chris Paul the team is playing .700 ball playing around 30 games over .500.
L.A. was ready when the Suns came to Staples Center. Davis poured in 42 points grabbed 12 boards, added 5 assists and blocked 3 shots in 41 minutes in a 123-110 win over the Suns.
There are only six players in NBA history to go 42,12,5, and 3. He is the first Laker to have that statline. He and Hakeem Olajuwon are the only two players to do the feet twice. Davis last did it vs. Denver in 2016.
This was his 11th double-double of the season. He looked the most energetic we’ve seen all season. “We’re not at full strength yet,” said Davis. “We know the team we can be.”
Alex Curuso filled in brilliantly for the missing James and Dennis Schroder. The crafty veteran had 17 points to go with a season high eight assists, three rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes. As a starter this season he has averaged 12 points, 5 assist and 3 boards-Playing 29 minutes a game.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 17, Ben McLemore and Montrezl Harrell had 12 each.
The Lakers are in 7th place and teams in the 7 to 10 spots will be part of a play-in tournament with the winner taking on the number two seed. A well rested LeBron James is due back any day now. (As of press time)
“When we’re healthy we are tough to beat,” said Caruso. “When we have all our guys we’re the best team in the world.”