Lakers roll past Nets as Anthony Davis returns

The Los Angeles Lakers picked up some welcome news and a win on Tuesday.

Following a 17-game absence with a knee injury, Anthony Davis made his return to the Lakers lineup just in time for a nationally televised game against the Brooklyn Nets. His playing time was understandably limited, but it didn’t matter for the Lakers who cruised to a 106-96 victory over the shorthanded Nets.

While his court time was restricted, there was little evidence of the MCL sprain that’s sidelined him since mid-December. He ran, cut and worked in the post without any apparent issue en route to eight points, two rebounds and four blocks in 25 minutes. 

The Lakers worked to get him involved early with an alley-oop from LeBron James for the game’s first points.

Another big game from James

As he’s done for most of the season, James carried the load for the Lakers, stuffing the box score with 33 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks while shooting 14 of 21 from the floor. It marked his 18th straight game scoring 25 points. After the game, he credited Davis’ presence on the floor for impacting the rest of the team.

“Just his presence is an impact for our ball club,” James told TNT. “He adds so much more length to our defense. He adds another playmaker, another dynamic player on the floor where you can’t have all eyes on myself and Russ and Melo. Now you have to account for AD as well.”

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on December 09, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Anthony Davis made his Lakers return on Tueday after a 17-game absence. (Justin Ford/Getty Images/file)

James Harden led the way for the Nets with 33 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as Brooklyn played without Kevin Durant (knee), Kyrie Irving (New York vaccine mandate) and Joe Harris (ankle). 

Davis hadn’t played since injuring his left knee against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 17. He collapsed in pain while walking to the locker room after sustaining the injury in a collision with Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels

The Lakers announced the next day that Davis sustained an MCL sprain and would miss at least four weeks. His return on Tuesday arrived more than five weeks since he sustained the injury.

The Lakers lost four straight games after Davis’ injury and went 7-10 while he was sidelined. They improved to 24-24 with Tuesday’s win to move up to seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

Prior to his injury, Davis was producing at his usual All-Star level, averaging 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, two blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

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