Lakers provide injury updates on LeBron James, Lonnie Walker IV, Anthony Davis

LOS ANGELES — Sometimes you have to look at the silver linings.

Especially when you have injury reports like the ones Darvin Ham has had lately.

Even the sunny-side-searching Lakers coach found himself taking a momentary pause, his eyes wide, when looking at his unavailable players on Wednesday night against the Miami Heat. LeBron James (non-COVID illness), Anthony Davis (right foot injury) and Lonnie Walker IV (left knee soreness) left him without his top three scorers against a team that held the Lakers to 98 points a week ago.

Ham joked about missing James, 38, who has been on a hot streak lately: “Somebody’s gonna have to give us 43 (points), 15 (rebounds) and nine (assists).”

But at least on that injury front, most of the news was good.

For James, Ham said the player who put together back-to-back 40-point games was dealing with a common cold. James was listed as questionable with left ankle soreness and had played more than 39 minutes in each of his last two performances, but Ham said the decision was merely precautionary.

“Just the common cold, is what it sounds like,” Ham said. “So we told him to shut it down. Stay at the house. Get fluids, get meds and try to get better.”

If anything, the cold will simply slow James in the chase for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record: He’s within 484 points of the Lakers great.

Walker’s injury changed this week, after he missed two games with a bruised tailbone stemming from a fall in Orlando on Dec. 27. This missed game, Ham said, was due to “a little bit of tendonitis” in his left knee, which he got an MRI on after the team returned to Los Angeles. But Ham said he also expected Walker back “in the short term” from the ailment.

“He started having a little bit of problems with it, and it’s normal for a kid that plays the way he plays: athletically and above the rim,” Ham said. “So we’re managing that and just trying to bring him along slow – in terms of him just not causing ripple effects suffering from that issue.”

Davis’ injury is now well-understood after his media session in last week in Atlanta: He has a stress reaction in a fractured bone spur in the navicular bone at the top of his right foot. What’s less clear is how long that will take to heal, and Davis himself didn’t want to adhere to a specific timeline for an injury that could heal at a hard-to-predict pace.

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But the Lakers are using continuous MRIs to monitor Davis’ foot. The star big man has now missed 10 consecutive games with the injury, and Ham said “he’s going right according to plan.” Ham’s description of the Lakers’ approach implied organizational patience.

“A.D. is a process that we’re committed to and we’re going to be disciplined with and follow as well,” he said.

Ultimately, he said, Wednesday’s game represented an opportunity for others who haven’t played all that much this season.

“In times like this, you just constantly need to look at the silver lining, and guys who got no minutes, short minutes, they got a chance to get up and down, catch a rhythm,” he said. “Get those reps under their belt. So when we do get everyone back – or almost everyone back – we have reliable sources of income up and down our roster.”

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