The good news is that the Los Angeles Lakers lost Anthony Davis for four weeks with a knee injury and it’s only an MCL sprain, which could have been a lot worse.
The bad news is that the short-handed Lakers lost their best defender for a month. Davis made an early exit from Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a hyperextended knee. Davis scored just nine points in 20 minutes before he went down with the injury. Without Davis in the second half, the Lakers lost 110-92.
After a disappointing first quarter of the 2021-22 season, the Lakers (16-14) find themselves in sixth place in the Western Conference and only two games above .500.
Davis averaged 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.1 blocked shots per game with the Lakers this season as the team’s second-best scorer behind LeBron James.
The Lakers have six players currently in COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but losing Davis for a month could not come at a worse time.
“It’s just craziness,” said Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. “There’s chaos. But we’re not letting it impact us in terms of trying to win games.”
Davis missed 36 games last season with an Achilles tendon injury. In last year’s postseason, Davis went down with a groin injury and the Lakers were eliminated in the first round. This season, Davis missed just three games in the Lakers’ first 30 games.
On Deck: Bulls, Suns, Spurs, Brooklyn
The Lakers head to Chicago to play the Chicago Bulls (17-10) on Sunday evening. The Bulls are in the middle of fending off a nasty outbreak of COVID-19. The NBA postponed two of their games earlier in the week due to decimated rosters. Sunday’s game against the Bulls marks their first game back in a week.
Without Davis in the lineup, the Lakers opened as +5 road dogs against the Bulls.
The Lakers will miss Davis as their primary rim protector. As a defensive unit, the Lakers allow 111.4 points per game as the sixth worst-defense in the NBA. They have a strong perimeter defense that allows only opponents to shoot only 33.5% from 3-point land, which is ranked fifth-best in the NBA. But, the Lakers have a soft interior and give up too easy shots inside the arc. Without Davis roaming the paint, opponents will try to exploit that glaring weakness.
Next week, the Lakers host a three-game homestand in LA. They have a big game against the Phoenix Suns (23-5) on Tuesday, before the San Antonio Spurs (11-17) visit Hollywood on Thursday. On Christmas, the Lakers are a part of the NBA’s quintuple-header. They host the Brooklyn Nets (21-8), the top team in the Eastern Conference, which could also include the return of Kyrie Irving.
You can back the Lakers at +900 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship, according to the most recent update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.