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Lakers’ Anthony Davis eases injury concerns in win over Spurs

A fall in the 3rd quarter was nothing to fret over as Anthony Davis delivers off the bench in his 1st game since Dec. 16.

Anthony Davis returns to the court after a 20-game absence and scores 21 points with 12 rebounds to power Los Angeles past San Antonio.

LOS ANGELES — Just before heaving a half-court shot, Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis rolled his right ankle. After falling to the ground, Davis then clutched his right leg.

After a collective groan permeated the arena, Davis stood up. Lakers fans then exhaled.

“I almost fainted,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

In his first game since missing the previous 20 with an injured right foot, Davis mostly offered encouraging signs in the Lakers’ 113-104 win against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at Arena. He had 21 points on 7-for-15 shooting, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 26 minutes off the bench. As Ham said, “Overall great, A+.”

Just as it has been throughout his 3 1/2 seasons with the Lakers, however, Davis sparked concerns about his health during his third-quarter fall.

As Davis attempted a shot from beyond half court before the buzzer sounded, Spurs forward Zach Collins committed a Flagrant 1 foul after invading his landing space. That caused Davis’ right ankle to buckle before he fell to the ground.

“That’s a dangerous play. That play has cost a lot of people a lot of opportunities in past recent years,” Ham said. “That was a huge relief to see him overcome that unfortunate play.”

It was also a huge surprise to Davis that both his teammates, coaches and fans showed concern after his fall.

“I was fine. It didn’t bother me at all,” Davis said. “All the guys came to me and were like, ‘Are you okay?’ I was like, ‘Man, was it that bad? I didn’t see it.”

Nonetheless, the Lakers handled Davis with care ever since injuring his right foot on Dec. 16 against Denver.

After seeing multiple doctors that determined he did not need surgery, Davis completed various therapy and weight-training exercises. Two weeks ago, Davis advanced to individual running, jumping and shooting drills. This past week, Davis completed a non-contact practice as well as two full contact practices before the Lakers cleared him to play against San Antonio.

“We would save him from himself if we thought there would be a type of threat on what he could do to himself,” Ham said. “He’s had boxes he’s had to check, and he’s checked all of them.”

Anthony Davis' return to the Lakers' lineup should mean only good things for the team going forward.

Davis assumed a bench role on limited minutes in the first quarter (playing the final 4:22), second (first 8:26) and third (final 5:23). He played the first three minutes of the fourth quarter before returning at the 6:22 mark and exiting with 45.1 seconds remaining.

Ham projected Davis will remain a reserve for “a week or so.” That coincides with the Lakers’ five-game trip with stops in Boston (Saturday), Brooklyn (Jan. 30), New York (Jan. 31), Indiana (Feb. 2) and New Orleans (Feb. 4).

Davis told Ham with amusement that he has not assumed a bench role since playing in the 2012 Olympics. But Davis also played four games as a reserve during his rookie season in New Orleans (2012-13). He also came off the bench on Dec. 18, 2013 against the LA Clippers after missing the previous seven games with a broken left hand.

“I definitely understood it. I was fine with it,” Davis said of his bench role. “I tried to stay ready and went in and did what I have to do. But it’s definitely different trying to warm up, then you sit down and then you go in. That was different for me, but it felt good.”

Anthony Davis talks with the media following his team's win against the Spurs.

Ham still staggered some of Davis’ minutes with Lakers forward LeBron James throughout the game. In the second quarter, James set up Davis for a 3-pointer with 10:56 left and a lob with 1:45 left in that quarter. Davis also played with James during his rotation stints both in the third and fourth quarter. After averaging 35.0 points in 37 minutes per game this month, James finished with 20 points on 8-for-20 shooting, 11 assists and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.

“We’ve been teammates long enough to know how our connection is,” Davis said. “I’m sure it’ll be pretty fine once we get back to the starting lineup and we have more reps for the two-man game.”

Davis’ return also coincided with Rui Hachimura’s first game with the Lakers since acquiring him this week from Washington for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. Hachimura posted 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting and six rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.

“I have to talk to coach about this,” Davis said, laughing. “But some of the plays we run for me we ran for him.”

Davis hardly had any complaints about his health, though.

“The foot is fine,” Davis said. “The ankle is fine. Everything feels good.”

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Mark Medina is a senior writer/analyst for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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