Anthony Davis Says Lakers' 'Mental Mistakes' Cost Them in Loss vs. Trail BlazersMay 8, 2021
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis lamented the team's "mental mistakes" in Friday night's 106-101 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, which dropped them to seventh in the Western Conference.
Davis, who scored a team-high 36 points, called it a "tough loss for us":
The Lakers were second in the Western Conference with a 21-7 record Feb. 14. That was the last day Davis played before being sidelined for nine weeks while recovering from calf and Achilles injuries.
By the time he returned to the lineup April 22, LeBron James was out with a high-ankle sprain. James, who suffered the injury in a March 20 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, made a brief two-game return last weekend but is back out because of the same injury.
So it's not a major surprise L.A., which is also currently without Dennis Schroder because of the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, has slid down the West standings.
While Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said before the loss to the Blazers he was "unafraid of the play-in tournament with this team," the reality is finishing outside of the top six in the conference would create another hurdle in their championship defense.
That said, the quandary Los Angeles may face over the next week as the regular season reaches its conclusion is striking the right balance between rest and trying to fight back inside the play-in cut line.
Though Davis shined Friday night, he was limited to just nine minutes Thursday because of a back injury. If they can give him and James some extra time off and hopefully get Schroder back in time for the play-in tournament, they'll still be a super tough out.
In the short term, a lot could depend on how the next couple of games go.
The Lakers host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and the New York Knicks on Tuesday. How the standings look after those matchups with a pair of playoff-bound opponents will likely help the staff decide how to handle the final three contests.