Anthony Davis gave Los Angeles Lakers fans quite a scare at the end of the third quarter against the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night. The All-Star big man, returning to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 16, fell to the floor and grabbed at his ankle seemingly in pain in a scene that has sadly grown all too familiar to Laker fans, but he quickly got up, sank three free throws and remained in the game. Darvin Ham even joked that he nearly passed out seeing Davis on the ground, but in the end, it was all smiles after Davis' return to the lineup following a five-week absence.
For the first time since he was a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Davis came off of the bench in an NBA game. That didn't slow him down one bit, and despite a minutes limit, he wound up leading the Lakers in scoring. The final tally: 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in just 26 minutes as the Lakers picked up their third win in four tries.
Anthony Davis making his presence felt! 😤 pic.twitter.com/5pF9Nf4VAe— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 26, 2023
"It was a long 5-and-a-half weeks," Davis said after the game. "Feels good to come back, get a win and ultimately just be back on the floor with these guys." Of course, he wasn't just back on the floor with old teammates. He got to play with a new one for the first time Wednesday as trade acquisition Rui Hachimura made his Lakers debut.
The results were encouraging. Hachimura, also coming off of the bench despite reports indicating that he will eventually start, scored 12 points on seven shots while pulling in six rebounds and finishing with a team-best plus-18 point-differential. The Lakers, whose limited size was only exacerbated with Davis out this past month, finally had a bit of length to put on the floor defensively.
The results speak for themselves. The 104 points they allowed were the fewest they'd given up since a Nov. 25 win over these same San Antonio Spurs. They still have a long way to go in both integrating Hachimura and getting Davis back up to speed, but on Wednesday, the Lakers gave the rest of the league a glimpse of what this team might look like at full strength. When James and Davis are healthy and they have a diverse group of supporting players, they're going to be able to hang with just about anyone.