Anthony Davis might miss 4 weeks but LeBron James is focused

LeBron James and Anthony Davis cheer for the Lakers at the end of the game against the Nets.
The Lakers’ LeBron James and Anthony Davis applaud their teammates at the end of Thursday’s game against the Nets.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

LeBron James and Anthony Davis stood next to each other late in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the two stars sharing a moment while their teammates played the final minutes at Staples Center on Thursday night.

James had been forced to go it alone against the Nets and two of their stars, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, because Davis was out with a strained right calf.

When it was announced that Davis would be out an “estimated” four weeks because of his injury, it meant that James could be without his partner until mid-March.

“I really haven’t even thought that far, to be honest. I’m taking it day by day,” James said on his postgame videoconference. “We play every other day. I don’t have the opportunity to look four weeks ahead. It’s just not ... it wouldn’t be adequate for myself or our ballclub. I have to stay in the moment. I’m going to start to prepare myself already to get ready for Saturday’s matchup with Miami and just keep my focus that way. Stay low and keep firing. I have not even thought that far down of what it looks like four weeks from now. “

Davis suffered the injury Sunday night in Denver, and he was reevaluated Thursday night, a diagnosis that Lakers coach Frank Vogel said “just confirmed the calf strain.”

James had another stellar game, collecting 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.


Yet he could have used Davis to combat Harden (23 points) and Irving (16 points). Kevin Durant missed the game, the third in a row, because of a hamstring injury.

“He’s doing exactly what he needs to do to get himself back into the best health that he can be in,” James said of Davis. “He has an injury that he can’t mess around with too much and as an organization, as his teammates, as me as his brother, he has our full support. So, take his time. As much as he needs.

“And when I go to the sideline, we’re talking about the game, that possession, that half, that quarter. What can I do better? Does he see something that I could have done better? Does he see some things that we could have done better? Because he’s still a big extension of our real team, even if he’s not in uniform. So, nothing changes though.”

Vogel said the Lakers won’t take any chances with Davis, preferring to be extra cautious.

“We want to try to put this fully behind him and be conservative with it, just to make sure that it’s fully healed before he’s back,” Vogel said.

About an hour before the Lakers played the Nets, Los Angeles announced that starting guard Dennis Schroder was out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocol.

Schroder had started all 29 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 14.2 points per game, third best on the team, and 4.3 assists, second best.

Highlights from the Lakers’ loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 18, 2021, at Staples Center.

That was another blow for the Lakers that Vogel said “has a great impact. He’s one of our best on-ball defenders. Was really looking forward to the matchup with he and Kyrie on both ends” of the court.

The Lakers play host to the Miami Heat on Saturday, but Vogel was unsure when Schroder would be ready to play again.

“I can’t say anything with clarity how soon he’ll be back,” Vogel said.

The question now becomes how much more can James place on his shoulders for a Lakers team that has lost two of its last three games.

“Coming into the season, we already knew it was going to be a challenge, just from the protocols itself,” James said. “The virus is still going on and everything that goes with that. You already knew it was going to be a challenge coming into the season so it shouldn’t be a surprise when you’re hit with some adversity. I think adversity builds character. And that’s how you handle it. Nothing changes for me.”