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Lakers sans Davis

For the Lakers, first the bad news: leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker Anthony Davis will not be in uniform when the Wizards trek to the crypto.com Arena today. He tweaked his right foot in the first half of a homestand against the dangerous Nuggets in their previous outing, and did not even stay on the bench after the break. While an initial x-ray test at the facility showed no structural damage, officials figured prudence to be the better part of valor and decided to hold him out pending the result of a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

The absence of Davis cannot but be deemed a blow, and not simply because he scored a whopping 55 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in 38 minutes to lead the Lakers to a rare road victory over the Wizards earlier this month. More than anything else, his sidelining exposes the major weaknesses of the purple and gold; these are particularly evident on defense, where he makes up for the shortcomings of those around him with his length, mobility, and uncanny timing and anticipation to cap his on-ball and help coverage.

The good news is that the Lakers can build on their statement-making triumph against the Nuggets. They were particularly engaged in the second half, during which their dynamism and preferential option to run at just about any instance served them in good stead. Only time will tell whether they will again encounter success sans Davis, and if their Plan B — which features 20-year veteran LeBron James at center — proves as productive in holding the Wizards at bay. The hope is that the moving parts once again get together well enough to be better as a collective.

In any case, oddsmakers have pegged the Lakers as favorites. They’re prepped to get smiles in the faces of fans for the most part, but all and sundry know they’ve provided ample cause for disappointment time and time again. They should be good for a W assuming they manage to rein in their Hyde side. Else, they’ll get to prove once more their capacity to underwhelm, especially in the crunch.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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