Anthony Davis' MRI shows calf strain, no Achilles rupture
By Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports NBA Reporter
The Lakers have hit their first major bump en route to defending their championship.
Superstar Anthony Davis aggravated his right Achilles tendinosis in Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets. He had an MRI on Monday in Denver that showed there wasn't a rupture, according to the team. That’s a major sigh of relief for the Lakers, considering a rupture would've sidelined Davis eight to 12 months.
But according to ESPN, Davis also suffered a right calf strain and is expected to be out while recovering from both ailments at least through the All-Star break, which ends March 10.
That means he'll likely miss at least nine games, including contests against the star-laden Brooklyn Nets, who are widely considered championship contenders in the Eastern Conference, and the Utah Jazz, who are atop the Western Conference and 1.5 games ahead of the Lakers (21-7) with a record of 22-5.
Davis, who missed two games because of right Achilles tendinosis last week, aggravated the injury late in the second quarter Sunday after driving against Nikola Jokic. He immediately limped off of the court and grabbed his heel.
He returned to make two free throws before leaving the game for good
The 27-year-old Davis said after the game that he knows he has to be careful with an Achilles injury, especially considering that Achilles tears can be devastating for NBA players, who rely on their explosiveness.
"I go out there and try to compete at the highest level and do what I can to help this team, and so, if that means me going out there and playing through some minor bumps and bruises, then that’s what it is -- but this one is a little different that I definitely have to be smart with," he said.
Even before receiving the results of the MRI, the Lakers were steeling themselves for having to play without Davis, a seven-time All-Star who is averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds this season.
"We’ve played games without him, and we’ve won games without him," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Sunday.
In games for which Davis was sidelined last season, the Lakers were 6-3. Heading into Sunday's game, they were 4-1 this season in games he missed.
The Lakers know they will feel Davis' absence.
Without him, an even heavier load will be placed on the 36-year-old LeBron James, who hasn't missed a game this season, despite a nearly 100-day stay at Walt Disney World in pursuit of the Lakers' first title in 10 years followed by a historically short 71-day offseason.
James, however, made it clear that he wants Davis to take his time with his recovery, stressing that Davis being healthy is the best thing for both player and team.
He added that filling the void left by Davis will be a collective effort.
"We're not asking anybody to pick up what AD does," James said Sunday. "Nah, you can't do that. It's impossible. He's a special player and a special talent for a reason. So everyone individually has to pick up their play for the collective of the team in AD's absence. So we look forward to that challenge."
It will be a big one.
When Davis suffered the injury with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first half against the Nuggets, the Lakers were trailing by only five points. After he left the game, they went on to trail by as much as 21 in their 122-105 loss.
Kyle Kuzma, who slid into the starting lineup last season when Davis missed five straight games because of a gluteus maximus contusion, said he's prepared to help the team in any way he can.
"My approach is the same," Kuzma said. "I’m trying to go get every rebound. I’m trying to defend at a high level and then just get easy baskets. That’s my mentality. I’m not changing nothing."
Davis will miss Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and will be further evaluated by team doctors when he returns to Los Angeles, according to the Lakers.
Davis, who had been experiencing soreness around his right Achilles for weeks, said he felt ready to return Friday against Memphis, when he finished with 35 points and nine rebounds in just under 35 minutes. On Sunday, he had 15 points in 14 minutes before aggravating the injury.
He said he intends to do whatever it takes to get healthy again.
"Obviously, be a little more smarter with it, like I was smart the first time, but even more smarter," Davis said. "Up the treatment more — instead of three times a day, maybe five times a day — just trying to get it back where it needs to be [and] go out there and help the team."
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA reporter for FOX Sports. She has previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News.