Dave McMenaminESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
SALT LAKE CITY — The Los Angeles Lakers clinched a spot in Championship Play with a 135-133 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
However, the heavy workload it takes to win from Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis – both recovering from foot injuries – could affect their preparation for Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers as the Lakers attempt to climb higher in the Western Conference standings. .
James, in his fifth game after missing four weeks with a torn tendon in his right foot, played 38 minutes.
“The extra five minutes definitely didn’t help,” said James. “It certainly didn’t help but we needed to get the win.”
Prior to the Jazz game, he had not played more than 32 minutes since his return.
How does my feet feel when I get up and get out of bed? “It was the most important since my injury five weeks ago – the next day either after rehab or training or therapy, whatever. It always is.”
Davis played 42 minutes against the Jazz – the first time he had logged in north of 40 minutes since returning in late January after missing 20 games due to a bone spur and a strain reaction in his right foot.
Since Davis returned to the mix, he has sat on one leg of all three consecutive touchdowns on the Lakers schedule. In fact, he only played once in a row all season, November 6-7.
Sources told ESPN that the decision to sideline Davis since returning from a foot injury is up to the Lakers’ medical staff, with the increased risk of reinjury due to overuse.
“I haven’t played in a back-to-back game in a long time,” said Davis. “So, I mean, we’re all going to have a phone call or something like that tomorrow morning and go from there.”
Lakers coach Darvin Hamm said no decision had been made about James, Davis or D’Angelo Russell – who sat out Tuesday with a sore left foot – for the Clippers game until late Tuesday evening.
“We have our short-term business that we need to take care of and our long-term business that we need to take care of,” Hamm said. “We prioritize player health, first and foremost. No matter the stakes or implications of winning or losing or all of that. We need our players to know that we care about their health first and foremost.”
Hamm said it would be a “collective decision” between the players, coaching staff, front office and medical staff to make the call on Wednesday.
“If we see that they won’t have any problems, in terms of their health, and that we’re not putting them at risk, then we’ll move on,” Hamm said. “If there’s any kind of question mark, we’ll take it up and talk through it and go from there.”
While the Lakers are guaranteed a place to play after James’ 37 points, including the game-winning extra point, Davis’ 21 points and 14 rebounds and two blocks helped save the Jazz, they could finish just as quickly. No. 5 in the West as of the close of the regular season.
Los Angeles has three games left: Wednesday against the No. 5 Clippers (41-38); Friday at home against #4 Phoenix Suns (44-35); On Sunday, the Jazz hosting season concludes (36-43).
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