Source: Daily News
Injuries rob Lakers-Suns game of considerable star power Kyle Goon %%item_date%% %%item_source%%
PHOENIX — Between updates on Devin Booker and Jock Lawndale, Suns coach Monty Williams was asked about Anthony Davis, a former player of his, being sidelined for what’s expected to be a few weeks at least.
Williams raised his eyebrows at another question from reporters about injuries: “Big topic,” he deadpanned.
Indeed, Monday night’s Lakers-Suns contest was as much about who wasn’t available as who was. The Lakers came in especially short-handed, already without Davis, but also ruling out LeBron James (left ankle soreness), Russell Westbrook (left foot soreness) and Austin Reaves (right ankle sprain) before tip-off.
The reasoning seemed to be a mix of recent injuries and precaution. Reaves, for example, sprained his ankle Sunday night against the Washington Wizards. But James had no evident precipitating incident – Coach Darvin Ham said he wanted to give the 37-year-old a chance to recover from his team-leading 36.3 minutes per game.
“I mean, we just don’t want to put guys in positions where they’re vulnerable to injury,” Ham said. “Obviously people assume with no A.D. that that automatically means more minutes for Bron. Nah. What it means is other guys have to step up.”
If Ham was looking for validation on that decision, he needn’t have searched very far. On the opposing bench, Williams was wrestling with some guilt for Booker’s latest injury, groin soreness brought on by playing more than 42 minutes in a tight win against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Suns needed Booker’s 58 points, but Williams had regrets.
“Let’s be straight: I played him way too many minutes,” Williams said. “That’s the bottom line. I can’t look at anybody else but myself when I put one of our players in harm’s way. That’s a tough one to swallow. There’s just no other way to look at it.”
Davis, too, had been shouldering a heavy load of late. His last game before the Denver contest in which he got injured saw him play 46 minutes, including an entire second half and overtime.
The 29-year-old All-Star big man joined the Lakers on the trip to Phoenix and Sacramento and was not wearing a boot or any other visible protective gear on his right foot. The Lakers have yet to disclose the exact nature of Davis’ injury, nor have they publicly outlined a timeline for recovery.
However, there were positive health updates for the Lakers: Patrick Beverley – who earned a suspension for shoving Deandre Ayton when he last played in Phoenix – was upgraded from questionable after missing Sunday’s game with a sore right calf. Wenyen Gabriel returned to the lineup after spraining his shoulder and missing seven games.
Gabriel, in particular, adds much-needed size to a lineup that will be missing Davis for an undetermined stretch.
“You can’t simulate an NBA basketball game, so we’ll see where his wind is but it’s exciting to have him available,” Ham said. “Everything he was doing up until he was not available was great, but we needed his activity, his speed from end to end, his ability to protect the rim and finish around the basket and be one of our best screeners and rollers in the pick-and-roll game. So just want him to start getting his feet back wet in those areas.”