Big man Anthony Davis did not get to play much in the second scrimmage of the Lakers’ pre-restart slate, against Orlando on Saturday. But he sure had an impact: 9 points, 10 rebounds, nine minutes. That was, at least, until Davis was poked in the eye while fighting for a rebound with Magic center Khem Birch.
Davis left the game and did not return. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that Davis would be day-to-day and, because the team did not have media availability on Sunday, Davis’ status for Monday’s scrimmage—the final scrimmage of the three-game slate for the Lakers—remained unknown.
Anthony Davis will not return to this game after getting poked in the eye in the 1st Q.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 25, 2020
But Vogel addressed the media ahead of the scrimmage, in which he decided to rest Davis, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard.
Vogel said that Davis would not have played in this scrimmage even if he had not injured his eye.
“He’s still dealing with some discomfort,” Vogel said. “Again, he should be fine, should be available to play. I was going to hold him out anyway, this game. Obviously, with the eye injury, we decided to make sure we followed through with that.”
Anthony Davis in Scrimmages: 24 Minutes, 21 Points, 70% Shooting
Davis has only played 24 minutes in the two scrimmages the Lakers have had, but they have been an outstanding 24 minutes. In all, he has scored 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and 6-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line.
That’s good news for the Lakers, of course, who will lean heavily on Davis once the NBA playoffs begin on August 16. Davis has had an MVP-caliber year going back to before the season was suspended in March because of COVID-19, averaging 26.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists, blocking 2.4 shots per game and shooting 51.1% from the field this year.
The shooting has been especially impressive. Davis is also making a career-high 84.5% of his free throws this year, well ahead of the 79.5% he had shot for his career.
“We had to change so much,” Penberthy said. “He was turning his body, his elbow was funny, his hand was coming off the ball differently, his toe was crooked in the front. There were all kinds of little mechanical issues there. He’s such a great player he was able to make up for it and still be highly productive. So we just had to tinker with some of that stuff.”
Davis is ‘Back Into the Best Version of Myself’
At the beginning of the month, in a virtual conference call with reporters, Davis said that the hiatus had been beneficial for him. He is only 27 but the wear-and-tear of the season had taken its toll.
“It’s been good for me to let some of the lingering injuries I had toward the time when the NBA stopped kind of recover and heal,” Davis said. “(I can) get back into the best version of myself. I feel 100% healthy. … I feel like I’m ready to go.”
In the same call, Davis said he thought the Lakers would benefit from the unexpected rest and the leaguewide reset. L.A., he said, had a better chance at a championship in Orlando than before the season suspension.
“Actually, I think our chances are higher, just because we’re all rested and we’re all ready to go,” Davis said. “If anything, our chances got higher, and it’s going to be about just who wants it more.”