The Los Angeles Lakers fell back down to Earth on Tuesday night after winning the NBA In-Season Tournament Final on Saturday. Los Angeles played a closely-contested game against the Dallas Mavericks but when the dust settled, it was the short-handed Mavericks that came away with the 127-125 win.
Games like this are going to happen over the course of an 82-game season and this is not something that fans should be panicking about. After all, the Lakers are coming off of a near-week stint in Las Vegas. Losing the first game back from the tournament was rather predictable.
It isn't the game itself that should have fans worried, it is what Anthony Davis said after the game. Davis confirmed that the hip/groin injury that he has been dealing with flared up not just on Tuesday, but on Saturday as well. With AD's past in mind, this is somewhat troubling.
Lakers need to protect Anthony Davis from himself
It is clear that Anthony Davis is taking pride in being available this season for the purple and gold. He is among the league leaders in minutes played this season and has only missed one game. With nicknames like "street clothes" being thrown his way in the past, Davis showing his durability is absolutely meant to be a message to the league.
That is great and Lakers fans should be glad that Davis is priding himself in being available every single night. Any worries that fans may have had about him not wanting to play all 82 games can be quelled. However, at some point, the team has to protect Davis from himself.
The Lakers have a second leg of a road back-to-back on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. While the prospects of LeBron James and AD going up against Victor Wembanyama are great, the team needs to take the long-term approach with Davis.
If the injury was bothering him on Saturday, and has continued to bother him on Tuesday, then there is absolutely no reason for him to play on Wednesday. With another road game against the Spurs on Friday, the Lakers can afford to give Davis at least one night off.
The last thing the Lakers should be doing is putting Davis at risk if he is dealing with a lingering injury. December basketball games are far less important than May basketball games and that is what Davis and the team need to keep in mind.