View Original Notice ? Lakers’ LeBron James, Anthony Davis sit out in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There have been unfortunately long stretches when Frank Vogel seems less like the coach of the Lakers than the overseer of the team infirmary.
With four of his “regular” starters up in the air Friday night, Vogel spent much of his pregame press conference updating injury statuses. But the headliner was a doozy: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Malik Monk all missed Friday’s ESPN-televised road game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, it has been the general state of affairs. Starting their 25th different lineup of the season, the team has been without Davis for 21 games, without James for 14, and without Monk for six.
James’ injury raised eyebrows after it forced the four-time league MVP to miss his second game in a row – even at 37, he famously loathes missing games, especially against the franchise owned by Michael Jordan. But Vogel said the soreness in James’ left knee has been accompanied by swelling.
However, the Lakers are still calling James “day-to-day,” and noted that he did his normal weight room routine. Added Vogel: “There’s some swelling in there that they want to just get on top of. And that’s all it is.”
Davis’ absence was based more on precaution than how he was feeling: The Lakers Vogel acknowledged the Lakers had originally taken the approach that he might miss the game in Charlotte, just his third back in action, which would have been on a back-to-back.
But Davis also landed on his right wrist on Thursday night in Philadelphia, needing to get it wrapped to finish his 31-point, 12-rebound, four-blocked shot effort against the 76ers. With wrist soreness in addition to managing his left knee which he just finished rehabbing, sitting Davis became the obvious decision for the franchise.
“It was a mindset that he was going to play the first night and see how he felt,” Vogel said. “He got after it last night and looked really good. We were open-minded for him to play again, but anything beyond that soreness, we knew there was a possibility he would not play.”
Monk was held out with left groin soreness, which Vogel acknowledged Monk has dealt with in the past. Russell Westbrook (right knee soreness) and Avery Bradley (stomach illness) were listed in the pregame injury report but remained in the starting lineup.
Vogel swapped DeAndre Jordan in at center and Wayne Ellington in for James in an effort to give some lesser-played veterans a chance at minutes. As he’s done for much of the season, he refused to change the pregame standard, citing a next-man-up mentality.
“We have a deep team for a reason,” he said. “The expectation is for those guys to go out and win a basketball game.”
HORNETS COACH TIPS CAP TO MONK
Although he was not able to play on Friday night, Monk has been one of the breakout role players for the Lakers this season, averaging 12.1 points and shooting 40% from 3-point range.
The Hornets, who drafted him 11th overall in 2017, had a sometimes rocky four-year tenure with Monk, in which he only started one game after coming out of Kentucky. Still, Coach James Borrego said he wasn’t surprised to see Monk finding his niche in Los Angeles.
“I think he’s in a great position,” Borrego said. “My hope and belief is that he’s gonna make it in this league. He’s got a bright future. And he’s done a heck of a job this year. But a lot of the things you’re seeing right now, you saw last year.”
Borrego noted Monk is averaging near the same amount of points as his last season in Charlotte with slightly more minutes, and his shooting efficiency has slightly improved. He implied that Monk’s off-court dedication is the key to continuing his momentum: “If he can put in the work and be professional like he can and he’s shown, this kid has a bright future. I’m happy for him. He’s gonna do great things. He’s got me as a supporter.”