Losers of seven of their last nine games, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered yet another setback.
This one came early in the first quarter of an embarrassing loss to the team’s crosstown rivals, 118-94 on Thursday to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
Early in the opening quarter, Anthony Davis drifted back into a video board at the scorer’s table after launching a three-pointer from the wing, awkwardly stepping back and falling to the floor.
He appeared to tweak his right ankle -- the same leg he suffered a right calf strain that forced him to miss over two months.
Davis got up, retied his shoes and continued to play. However, after checking out with 2:50 left in the first quarter, Davis went to the locker room during the second quarter and never returned, with the Lakers announcing he suffered back spasms.
“The ankle is fine,” Davis said after the game. “I tweaked it, but it wasn’t bothering me. The back locked up pretty bad -- so that’s it. I couldn’t really move. It feels a little better now, and we’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
Davis went on to say he should be good to play on Friday against the Portland Trailblazers. Based on how Davis felt after the game, his plan is to play. The Lakers updated Davis' status to probable for Friday.
The Lakers played without LeBron James (right, high-ankle sprain), Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocol) and Talen Horton-Tucker (calf strain) against the Clippers.
Without three of their top playmakers, Alex Caruso started a second straight game at point guard. The Lakers struggled to create shots on the offensive end of the floor, shooting 39 percent from the field.
“We know when we’re all healthy the type of team that we have,” Davis said. “We saw it earlier in the year, and that’s what we always revert back to. When we’re 100 percent healthy, we’re are the top team in the league. So, we keep that in our minds.
“We know that we’ve got a lot of things going on with some of our players. And guys know that. But we know when we get 100 percent healthy -- Bron has a week, Dennis has maybe five or six days left, or something -- but when we get everyone healthy heading into the playoffs, we know the type of team that we are. And I think the league knows the type of team we are.”
The Clippers completed a season sweep over their crosstown rivals for the first time since the 2015-2016 season. The top shooting, three-point team in the NBA, the Clippers put that skillset on display, making 11-for-19 (58 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half to put the game away early, leading by as many as 24 points.
With the loss, the Lakers (37-29) are tied with Portland Trailblazers (37-29). The Lakers are seeded No. 6 ahead of Portland at the No. 7, play-in spot. The Lakers own the tiebreaker edge because it has a better record versus Western Conference opponents.
However, the two teams have split the season series 1-1, and the Lakers face the Blazers in Portland in the second of back-to-back games on Friday.
“Obviously, we’re fighting for a playoff spot,” Davis said. “And tomorrow is probably the biggest game of these games left. Guys are still optimistic and we’re still fighting. And guys spirits are still high.”