Davis missed his 17th game in a row because of a sprained left knee ligament he suffered on Dec. 17 at Minnesota.
The Lakers announced Saturday that Davis’ status had been upgraded to questionable and that he would be a game-time decision for Sunday’s game at Miami. Then the Lakers announced Sunday that Davis would not play in the game they lost 113-107 to the Heat.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel explained the cautious approach with Davis.
“We’ve got to make sure we do it safely and at the right pace and at the right time,” Vogel said. “In terms of what pushed it, we just knew he was getting close so we wanted to have transparency with reporting that it wasn’t 100%, that he wouldn’t play, so we had him as questionable. But we knew that it was probably unlikely. There were no setbacks or anything like that. It’s just a matter of him getting closer.”
Davis worked out before the Lakers played at Orlando on Friday night, leaving Vogel to say, “he felt good with his work yesterday.”
Davis worked out again Sunday in Miami and the plan is for him to work out again before the Lakers play at Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
“Obviously it’s tough to find practice time and practice bodies,” Vogel said. “But it’s been really intense work with the coaches and some of the coaching assistants that will get out there and bang with him.”
When Davis does return, Vogel was asked if he would place him on a minutes’ restriction.
“I don’t know that yet,” Vogel said. “And tomorrow he’s gonna get some work in, and we’ll see how his body is responding at that point in time.”
The Lakers dropped to 7-10 with Davis out, their loss to the Heat another reminder of the importance of his defensive presence.
“Well, anytime you get a talent like that that comes back to the lineup it boosts our team, not only physically, mentally, spiritually, everything,” LeBron James said. “You get a big-time player like that on both sides of the floor so it’s no pressure when he decides he’s ready or when the doctors and his staff tell him he’s ready. But we look forward to when he’s in the uniform again with us.”
Davis was injured when Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, who was shoved by a cutting James, stumbled into Davis’ leg. Davis fell awkwardly to the court and immediately grabbed his knee.
Having him out, the Lakers lose Davis’ 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.0 blocks per game.
“I think whenever you get a player like AD back, it definitely changes your team,” Russell Westbrook said. “Not just on the offensive side but defensive side. He’s able to do things that people can’t do at his size. It definitely gives the team a boost to get to see everybody on the floor — hopefully as we move forward toward the tail end of the season.”