Monday was a day of both encouraging and discouraging developments for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In other words: a Monday.
On the court, the Lakers pocketed perhaps their most impressive win of the season — gutting out a 101-95 win over the Utah Jazz at Crypto.com Arena. The Lakers were lacking any signature wins over top-tier playoff teams since Anthony Davis went down. They got back to .500 (22-22) and improved to 6-8 since Davis sprained the MCL in his left knee on Dec. 17.
On the injury front, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel provided both promising and worrying — and generally inconclusive — news.
In his pregame remarks, Vogel announced that Carmelo Anthony would be ruled out for a third consecutive contest with back tightness. The 37-year old got in a last-minute shoot-around before tip-off and could be seen motioning at his back.
Carmelo Anthony will miss tonight’s game with back tightness, but he just came out to get some shots up pic.twitter.com/K2c8TdnSHJ
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 18, 2022
Melo just came out to get some shots up ahead of the game. You can see his back’s clearly bothering him, the reason he’s been ruled out of tonight’s contest pic.twitter.com/DRLDCrI9Ly
— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) January 18, 2022
In the same media availability, Vogel revealed that Kendrick Nunn's return would be delayed. Nunn — whom the Lakers continue to insist will play an integral role and is one of their few tradable assets — has yet to make his season debut after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee in the preseason. The organization has been generally vague on his rehabilitation and has provided scant updates on his status.
“Kendrick actually suffered a setback,” Vogel said. “Well, not necessarily a setback, but the ramped-up activity, his knee didn’t respond well to it. His knee didn’t respond well with it with the bone bruise. Bone bruises are tricky, and his timeline is delayed. Still have no firm timeline on it, but he’s pulled back on [it regarding] workload until it calms down.”
Finally, after an exciting win over in which the Lakers were able to mostly deploy small-ball lineups and beat Rudy Gobert with Stanley Johnson, LeBron James (and, on one notable occasion, Russell Westbrook), Vogel offered a much-anticipated update on Anthony Davis, who was evaluated Monday night.
“Everything looked clean on the MRI and the checkup with doctors, so he’s been cleared for an on-court ramp-up with contact,” Vogel said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll have a timeline. There’s still a reconditioning and ramp-up of work involved.”
Following AD's diagnosis one month ago, the Lakers announced that he would be re-evaluated in four weeks. That timeline technically culminated on Friday, the same day ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that the organization is optimistic Davis will re-join the Lakers on their upcoming six-game, 10-day “GRAMMYs” road trip, which begins with a matchup against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 21.
Despite the uplifting win vs. the Jazz, the Lakers need AD back ASAP.