The Los Angeles Lakers have had an up-and-down season, to say the least. It started with a dismal 2-10 record after a loss to the Sacramento Kings. Then, they were deciding if it made more sense to move Russell Westbrook to the bench, and they were digging themselves a huge hole just 12 games into the season.
The Lakers would eventually move Westbrook to the bench, but that didn't help them move up in the standings. The decision was ultimately made to move Westbrook and bring in several new players. Jarred Vanderbilt, D Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley have breathed some life into the Lakers playoff hopes. Unfortunately, the injury bug that has plagued the Lakers all season reared its ugly head again as LeBron James was diagnosed with a right foot injury.
That meant the Lakers would depend even more on their other superstar Anthony Davis. Coming off of one of their biggest wins of the season, a 123-108 win over the Pelicans, the Lakers had the decision to make. Rest Davis on the second night of a back-to-back, or let him play as you fight for the playoffs. The opponent on Wednesday night is a team in the Houston Rockets who have had the worst record for two years running and are on pace to take that crown again.
The Rockets are coming off their biggest win of the season after beating the Boston Celtics, but it's still the Rockets no way you can lose to a team with 15 wins coming into Wednesday night, right?
Well, Lakers fans, by the time you read this article, you already know the answer. The Lakers decided to rest Davis even though he wanted to play.
Anthony Davis on being out vs. Houston tonight:— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) March 15, 2023
“I want to play but, doctors and the organization ruled that I won’t be able to play back-to-backs... It’s tough because I want to be out there.” pic.twitter.com/2OmLswERAj
Anthony Davis admits “it’s tough” to not be cleared for B2Bs like Houston tomorrow. Even though it feels pain-free, his stress reaction an active injury. “You want to go out and play but at the end of the day with an injury like that, you don’t want it to go to the other side.” pic.twitter.com/cilfWgQdWo— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 15, 2023
Apparently it was the team and the Lakers doctors who decided to sit Davis even though the Lakers are currently 10th and only a half-game ahead of the Jazz for the final play-in spot. The decision also perplexed a lot of former players and media around the league.
Richard Jefferson is confused by the Lakers load managing Anthony Davis— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 15, 2023
"I'm not a doctor, so I'm not being critical here. ... I just don't understand." pic.twitter.com/TN8hcxNYOy
We aren't talking about game 10, 20, or even game 41 of the season. The Lakers only have 12 games left in the season and are in no way guaranteed to make the playoffs. James is feeling better, but there is still no concrete timetable for James' return.
“I’m told (LeBron’s) right foot is feeling much better … the Lakers are bracing as if he will need a significant chunk of the remainder of the regular season to ramp up for a return.”— The Rally (@TheRally) March 14, 2023
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on the status of Lakers star LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/xhsOT1m1PR
That means they have to depend on Davis to have any chance at making the playoffs. One loss can be the difference between heading to Cancun once the buzzer sounds on April 9th or getting ready for the playoffs. We all know Davis injury history, but you are at the point of the season where you can't take any games for granted. Maybe the Lakers felt the Rockets posed no threat and they could still get the win, but they quickly found out there are no automatic wins in the NBA.
If the Lakers miss the playoffs by one game, they will look back to March 15th game vs. the Rockets and regret their decision to sit Anthony Davis.