2021 Playoffs: West First Round | Suns vs. Lakers

Anthony Davis plays in Game 6, but exits in 1st quarter

Lakers have been struggling through injuries all series, and were blown out in Game 5 with Davis sidelined.

From NBA.com News Services

Anthony Davis discusses his groin injury and the Lakers' loss in Game 6 vs. Phoenix.

LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis managed less than 5 1/2 minutes in his return to the Lakers’ starting lineup Thursday night before leaving in clear pain from his groin injury as Los Angeles was eliminated in Game 6 of its first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.

After missing the previous 1 1/2 games, Davis suited up for Game 6 and attempted to play. But the superstar big man looked tentative and lacked any explosive ability while failing to take a shot, and he went down in a heap in front of the Lakers’ bench with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

The Lakers wound up losing 113-100 to send the defending-champions home. Phoenix will meet Denver in the Western Conference semifinals, and Game 1 is Monday in Phoenix (10 ET, TNT).

Los Angeles’ medical staff attended to Davis and escorted him to the locker room. The Lakers said Davis was questionable to return to the franchise’s first playoff elimination game since 2013, which the Suns led 36-14 after the first quarter. By halftime, he was ruled out altogether.

“It never really felt good. but the competitive nature in me wanted to go out there and help the team as best as I could,” Davis said after the game. “My body didn’t agree. … Injuries played a big part in putting us in the position we’re in. It wasn’t the same this year. We just couldn’t have our full product on the floor.”

Even with a healthy Davis, the Lakers would have hard-pressed to keep up on Suns guard Devin Booker’s latest evening of brilliance.

Booker hit all six of his 3-point attempts and went 8 for 9 overall as the six-year veteran showed none of the shakiness from earlier in the series against the Lakers. He was busy all night shredding the NBA’s best defensive team with his silky-smooth jumper and heady penetration.

Davis missed the second half of Game 4 and all of Game 5 after the eight-time All-Star injured his groin last weekend at Staples Center. The defending NBA champion Lakers lost both games to fall to a 3-2 series deficit and the brink of an early postseason exit.

Davis scored 34 points apiece while leading the Lakers to victories in Games 2 and 3, but his tentative play in Game 1 was a key factor in Los Angeles’ series-opening loss. The oft-injured Davis already was limping on a balky knee before injuring his groin, and he missed 30 straight games during the regular season with two right leg injuries, only returning in late April.

Davis went through two days of rest and recovery before a workout before Game 6 during which the Lakers’ medical staff determined he could attempt to play in Game 6. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Davis was determined to play, but wanted to be mobile enough to contribute.

Anthony Davis couldn't stave off injury as the Lakers are sent home in the first round.

Davis didn’t look mobile at all, and the Lakers were forced to move forward without him in possibly the final game of a season defined by injuries to their two biggest stars, Davis and LeBron James.

Lakers starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also was in the lineup after missing Game 4 and playing just 15 minutes in Game 5 due to a bruised knee. He finished with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting and had three rebounds. Caldwell-Pope was the third-leading scorer on LA’s championship team and the Lakers’ best 3-point shooter this season, but he took just one shot in Game 5 before sitting out.

Injuries and health woes were a problem for the Lakers throughout the 2020-21 season as various maladies sidelined Davis, LeBron James, Marc Gasol and others.

“I think health played a big part in why we’re in the position we’re in … all our guys … we just wasn’t healthy,” Davis said. “We were very healthy last year. Not this year.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.