Lakers’ Anthony Davis misses second straight game with knee soreness, could return soon – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES – Some two hours before tip-off, Anthony Davis was hanging around the court during his normal warm-up time, even firing bombs from deep.

That hopeful sign was undercut just minutes later when Lakers coach Frank Vogel announced Davis would miss his second straight game with left knee soreness.

But the team is upbeat that it will be the last game the 28-year-old will miss with this particular issue. Vogel circled Wednesday’s game in Dallas, the start of a three-game road trip, for his potential return.

“We did an ultrasound on it,” Vogel said. “Everything is structurally intact. Just taking another day, with the two days off before the next game, and hopefully we’ll put this behind us.”

All-in-all, the clean ultrasound was good news for the Lakers who dealt with tricky issues in Davis’ legs last season. He missed half of the regular season schedule dealing with an Achilles strain, then strained his groin against Phoenix during the first round of the playoffs. Davis beefed up his offseason conditioning in hopes of being more durable, which had worked out well until Friday night.

Davis has now missed three of the Lakers’ 28 games so far, with his teammates salvaging the previous two. He also missed most of a November loss against Portland which he started, but eventually left because of flu-like symptoms.

He’s averaging 24 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in his games this season.

The Lakers started Dwight Howard at center for the second straight game in Davis’ absence, but the 6-foot-10 big man is key to the Lakers’ smaller lineups where he plays center. While lineups with Davis have an overall minus-2.6 rating, the five most-played versions of those lineups all have positive net ratings, and Vogel has put Davis at center to close in the majority of games.

The team continues to bank that Trevor Ariza’s return from ankle surgery in October will help balance those lineups better. In the meantime, the Lakers have toggled through different lineups, especially at the guard position alongside Westbrook. On Sunday, Talen Horton-Tucker and Avery Bradley were again the starting guards.

When Davis comes back, Vogel said, he’ll continue to prioritize defense and shooting. To date, Bradley has started 20 games, Horton-Tucker has started 12; Malik Monk and Wayne Ellington have each started two while Kent Bazemore, who started 13 games, has been out of the rotation.

The trick, Vogel said, is letting each player hew to his strengths.

“Wayne is going to have more of a green light than some of the other guys,” he said. “Talen is going to have more of a green light to attack the basket than some of the other guys. Avery is going to have more of a green light to pressure the basketball than some of the other guys and obviously, Malik too, straight on down the line. Everybody just has to play to their strengths but to support Russ, Bron and AD, those perimeter spots around them have to play with great effort.”

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