As Anthony Davis plays hurt, Lakers focus on long-term health strategy

first_imgLOS ANGELES — All a reporter had to do was start with an observation: Anthony Davis falls down a lot.Avery Bradley jumped in before it could become a question: “I knew you were going to say that.”Davis has a reputation for hitting the deck. It’s a combination of factors: his position, which often puts him in the paint against physical bangers such as Memphis’ Jonas Valanciunas; his verticality, which puts him more at risk when he takes huge leaps; his scoring and driving ability, which puts him more in the line of fire.In a 120-91 win against the Grizzlies, his teammates cringe all the more every time Davis slammed against the hardwood. Laced into each stumble and slide was the knowledge that the 6-foot-10 phenom was already playing with a jammed shoulder – the fear was that he would somehow make it worse. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“We did talk about that on the sideline a little bit,” Lakers guard Danny Green said. “You know, (he’s) got to learn how to tuck and roll or fall gracefully. It’s hard to do that in this league when guys are beating you up.”That Davis was somehow able to manufacture a 40-point, 20-rebound game out of his 31 minutes was more stunning given the hindrance in his shoulder. But the game underlined critical truths for the Lakers (3-1), whose hopes are riding on the durability of his frame: Davis is sensitive about his dealings with his health, and no one on the team wants him to push it.On the first front, Davis has a reputation, deserved or not, for getting hurt. This stems from the beginning of his career, when he didn’t play more than 68 games during his first four seasons. The last few years have been more durable – Davis played in 75 games in his fifth and sixth seasons – but he has a propensity for getting dinged up.Midway through last season – before Davis played fewer minutes after his trade demand – The Athletic’s Will Guillory compiled a list of injuries Davis had over the course of the season. Of  the 14 injuries listed, Davis returned to the game in 12 instances, even if he missed time afterward.The latest brush seemed to fit that pattern. While Davis later admitted that he jammed his right shoulder against the rim on Sunday as “I tried to be Superman and dunk the ball,” immediately after the game he denied a report that anything was wrong specifically with his shoulder. The Lakers canceled practice Monday, then Davis declined to speak to the media during Tuesday’s shootaround or pregame. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I have a list of (injuries) and I just try to play, fight through them and do what I’ve gotta do to help the team,” he said. “I’m here to be one of the leaders of the team and it’s tough for me to do that on the sideline. So I’d rather just see how I feel, go play and try leading that way.”But the flip side is there are times when it would behoove the Lakers to give Davis a break in favor of keeping him healthy for the long haul. That seemed to be acknowledged when the Lakers pulled Davis out for the entire fourth quarter after he had keyed a 22-0 run.Toughness is good. But keeping an eye on the bigger picture is more important, teammates agreed.“I think we want, for us, we want him to do what’s best for him,” James said. “And if he felt like he could go, which he did, we’re all for it. But this is a marathon, and we understand that.”center_img The first official word from the Lakers that anything was wrong was 90 minutes before Tuesday’s game, when Coach Frank Vogel said Davis was testing it out. Davis said he never thought he would miss Tuesday’s game against Memphis, but he did acknowledge that he wasn’t completely sure he was feeling well enough to play until pregame warmups.“Passing and shooting, dribbling – all basketball plays,” he said. “I hadn’t got a chance to really test it out. I just wanted to test it out see how it felt. Felt good.”James acknowledged he knew Davis was feeling pain the past few days, but other teammates were in the dark. Dwight Howard and Green both said the game was the first time they knew something was up with Davis – Green said when Davis went to the locker room to get re-taped, his reaction was: “Oh shoot, he’s in the back?”Under the circumstances, teammates found it admirable Davis was willing to push himself into the paint to earn all the trips to the free-throw line. No one in the NBA has made 26 free throws since Michael Jordan did in 1987 – not until the Brow did it with a bum shoulder.“He’s been doing everything he can to get ready for tonight, and he did that,” James said. “And obviously nowhere near 100 percent, you have a performance like that, it’s pretty cool.”In the same breath, the Lakers also don’t want to risk Davis’ health this early in the season. While Davis said during his introduction that his intention was to play every game this season – something he’s never done – Vogel said when Davis went back to the locker room in the first half, he was prepared to coach without his star big man. The physicality Davis experienced in the paint against Memphis also validated why the coaching staff has been reluctant to play him at center full-time.Other teammates were circumspect about the risk Davis could put on his body by playing through injury. Bradley said playing without falling down as often is something Davis needs to learn now in his eighth season, but he also said it’s not something the team directly addresses as a group.“We haven’t really brought it up. I’m pretty sure people have,” Bradley said. “But he just has to continue to be aggressive. I don’t think he needs to think about that. It’s our job to just make sure that we put him in great spots so he’s not always putting himself in positions to fall down on the floor. Because we definitely need him out there on the floor at all times.”In just four games, Davis’ impact is readily seen: The Lakers become an elite defense (93.7 defensive rating) when he’s on the floor. Their rebounding and assist percentages increase, and their tempo picks up. Davis’ versatility is an ultimate weapon for a league that thrives on mismatches: He can post up guards, cross over bigs and find his points from the rim to the 3-point line.But to do all that, the Lakers need him healthy. Davis seemed to register this as a need for toughness, something that spurred him into playing Tuesday’s game.Related Articles Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years last_img read more

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Sean Payton reveals sandwich-related code for Saints playbook on Twitter — and opponents take note

first_imgGun Empty rt Quizno52 All Go Special X Shallow Cross. 4 verticals or find @Cantguardmike X pic.twitter.com/xpzUd1URoI— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) March 30, 2020After being asked what “Quizno” meant in the original play, Payton explained that the Saints use sandwich terms for tight splits, and even tagged both Quiznos and Jimmy John’s in the tweet. Perhaps he’s trying to get a social media influencer gig on the side in case the pandemic forces the NFL to cancel this season? It’s been two weeks since Sean Payton We use sandwich terms for tight splits.JJ = @jimmyjohnsClubStackQuizno @Quiznos— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) March 30, 2020Both Jimmy John’s and Quiznos reacted accordingly (Subway has yet to provide comments on being left out of the Saints’ offense).pic.twitter.com/vM00KrxvRC— Jimmy John’s (@jimmyjohns) March 30, 2020@SeanPayton we’re big fans of your tight splits, especially now that we know they’re named after us #wemissfootball https://t.co/DWc7LO3lQC— Quiznos (@Quiznos) March 30, 2020The sandwich shops weren’t the only ones to take note. Free agent safety Tony Jefferson II had fans laughing with his response.So sandwich terms for tight splits .. gotcha pic.twitter.com/CAQmsHfSqq— Tony Jefferson II (@_tonyjefferson) March 30, 2020Many fans made similar jokes (insert Bill Belicheck with binoculars gif). New Orleans fans were a bit concerned that Payton was giving away too much vital information, as if NFL defenses hadn’t already scouted the Saints as well as possible. Well, maybe not the Panthers . . .They’ve been seenin this!!— Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) March 30, 2020last_img read more

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