The Los Angeles Lakers emerged from the All-Star break with a victory and did so without star forward Anthony Davis, who remains sidelined with a strained calf and Achilles tendinosis.
“We anticipated it’s going to be a little bit of a build-up once we got back [from the All-Star break],” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters following Friday’s game. “We’ll be patient. We’ll continue to compete and win games. And we’ll all be very excited when we finally get [Davis] back.”
The Lakers will be without Davis for at least the next two weeks as he begins the next step of his rehab process, per a release from the team.
“Anthony Davis was examined by team doctors this evening. He is progressing in his recovery and has been cleared to enter the next phase of his return to play process. He will be re-evaluated by team doctors in two weeks and an update will be given at that time.”
The Lakers moved to 8-7 without Anthony Davis in the lineup this season by besting the Pacers in their first game out of the break. At 25-13, the Lakers are 3.5 games back of the first-place Utah Jazz. In a very competitive Western Conference, every game matters, but health for a playoff run ultimatley matters most.
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“I’m looking at it as we’re starting the second half of our season tonight, so we’re 1-0 during that stretch. Nobody was happy with how we finished going into the break,” Vogel said. “Losing a couple more starters in addition to having AD out set us back a little bit. We’ve just got play through that and put that stretch behind us, because we’re still undermanned right now and we’re going to be for some time.
“We’ve just got to compete and win games. Right now we’re 1-0 in the second half, and in a couple nights we’ll try to go 2-0.”
Alex Caruso, Marc Gasol to Miss Time
The Lakers will also be missing a key rotational piece in guard Alex Caruso, who is dealing with a concussion after bouncing his head off the hardcourt against the Pacers. Vogel revealed that both Caruso and Marc Gasol — who is being held out due to the league’s health and safety protocols — will miss the next two games. Gasol has already missed three games — dating back to before the All-Star break — due to the protocols.
“They’re not with us, and the only thing I can say timeline-wise is they won’t be with us for these two games, other than that, they’re just in the health and safety protocols, that’s sort of all I can say,” Vogel said. “For this back-to-back they will not be with us.”
Kyle Kuzma Stepping Up for Lakers
With multiple players out, Kyle Kuzma rose to the occasion off the bench in the Lakers’ last outing, playing one of his best games of the season. The fourth-year forward scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, collected 13 rebounds and helped lead the Lakers comeback charge in a game they trailed most of the way.
“I’m just playing my game, really,” Kuzma said. “I’m taking what is given to me, not trying to force anything. Not trying to be a scorer or trying to put the ball in the hole every possession, but when I’m open I am shooting it. Trying to make a play. Just playing off my teammates the best way I can, so that’s just where I’m at.”
The Lakers get back in action against the Warriors on Monday.
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