The Los Angeles Lakers season has been defined by untimely injuries, and their Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Suns was more of the same. Instead of grabbing a 3-1 series lead, the Lakers — already down Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — lost the game, 100-92, and may have lost Anthony Davis.
AD, who was already playing through a knee sprain, fell awkwardly on a botched layup seconds before halftime. He never reemerged from the tunnel and exited Staples Center without speaking to the media.
A dejected Lakers group was outscored 27-15 in the third quarter as the Suns found new life and eagerly pulled away.
Afterward, Frank Vogel revealed that Davis suffered a strained left groin and would undergo medical evaluations before an update would be provided on Monday. He’s listed as day-to-day.
“He’s one of the best players in the world, so you have to adjust,” Vogel said. The Lakers won’t have a lot of time to do that before Game 5 on Tuesday.
Los Angeles is used to playing shorthanded — especially without Davis, who missed 36 games in 2020-21. Vogel said the Lakers will “draw on” that experience going forward.
“We’ve been derailed this year, but at the same time, we’ve been through it,” reassured Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers have repeatedly talked up a “next man up” mentality in the face of adversity. Now, that mindset will be put to the test deep in a playoff series against a No. 2 seed.
“Next man up,” LeBron reiterated postgame. “We’ve been like that all year, and we’re going to have to be like that in a hostile environment.”
For the Lakers to take back control of the series and return to Los Angeles with a 3-2 lead, here are those men who need to be next up.
Kuzma scored 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting in Game 4 (minus-13), raising his series average to … 5.3 points in 22 minutes per game.
Prior to Davis’ injury, Kuzma’s scoring output has been sporadic, at best, as the L.A. offense has sputtered overall. Kuzma scored two points through Games 1 and 2, leading me to ask Vogel if his squad needed the fourth-year forward to get more involved in the offense.