Lakers treading water, but eventual return of Anthony Davis looms

L.A.'s big man could be back on the floor by end of the month
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Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was asked about the possibility of Anthony Davis returning this week for the first time in over two months.

“His a—better play,” joked Kuzma. “It’s been about two or three months. Hopefully, he’s ready to go. Obviously, we miss him a lot out there. And having him out there is going to be really good for us. It allows certain guys to fall in line a little more as a whole. We can all get back to a little bit of a role, and paly around him a little bit.

“Obviously, he’s got to get his feet back wet, but it’s going to allow us to look a little better, I think.”

Kuzma and the Lakers could have used Davis in Monday’s 111-97 loss to the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Monday.

The Jazz never trailed and led by as many as 25 points in the second half. With one of the best defensive centers in the game in Rudy Gobert, the Jazz controlled things inside, finishing with a 52-36 advantage in the paint.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Davis is getting closer to returning but needs to work on his conditioning. Davis has not played since Feb. 14 because of a right calf strain. But he’s been cleared for full-contact practices and could return during the Lakers’ four-game road swing that starts on Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks.

Vogel said the Lakers will stick to their typical schedule when they have two days in-between games, taking Tuesday off and practicing Wednesday before Thursday’s game. That would allow for Davis to get a practice in before he potentiallyplays on Thursday.

“The biggest thing is conditioning right now,” Vogel told reporters before Monday’s game against the Jazz. “He’s healthy. But having not played and not really being able to ramp up his physical, on-court activity over the last two months, it’s going to take some time before he gets his wind under him and obviously, that’s the biggest thing.

“Because if his legs aren’t under him, we don’t want him to be at risk for re-aggravation of the injury or another injury. We want to keep a close eye on that.”

Los Angeles also received some good news on the injury front for LeBron James. He has progressed to the point where he’s doing light work on the court after being out since Marc 20 with a right, high ankle sprain. James is still weeks away from returning to the floor.

Vogel said even when James and Davis do return, they will be on minutes restrictions.

The Lakers have done a nice job of staying afloat with their two superstars on the mend. The Lakers are 7-9 this season in games without James and 18-17 in games without Davis.

The Lakers are 5-5 over their last 10 games, and at 35-23 two games ahead of the Portland Trailblazers for fifth place in the Western Conference with 14 games left in the regular season.