Anthony Davis’ health could change course of Lakers-Warriors series

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LeBron James knows. So does Anthony Davis. And from his time as an NBA assistant, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham knows, too.

They understand how difficult it is to win the series-clinching game.

The rest of the Los Angeles Lakers? They discovered.

Beating the Golden State Warriors at home with their season and future on the line extends beyond difficult and inches closer to impossible. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr — and their four titles in the past eight years — won’t exit the playoffs meekly.

The Warriors extended the series with a 121-106 victory in Game 5 Wednesday. It forces a Game 6 Friday in Los Angeles (10 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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The Lakers want — and maybe need — Game 6. It’s not a must-win in the literal sense like it is for the Warriors, down 3-2 in the series.

But Los Angeles does not want to go back to San Francisco for Game 7.

A fourth-quarter injury to Davis added to the Lakers’ challenge, and his health hangs significant over the series outcome. Davis was hit on the head with Kevon Looney’s forearm. Davis was in pain. He sat on the bench, went to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

The concern is a possible concussion.

The NBA has specific protocol for determining concussions and then a set of return-to-play steps if a player is diagnosed with a concussion. TNT sideline reporter Chris Haynes said Davis was wobbly and required a wheelchair for a short trip to the locker room.

A concussion would put Davis’ availability for Game 6 or maybe even a potential Game 7 in jeopardy. Davis had 23 points and nine rebounds Wednesday and is a major reason why the Lakers took a 3-1 lead.

Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham didn’t have many answers on Davis’ health. It was too early, but Ham said, ‘He seems to be doing really good already.’

It’s not that the Lakers can’t beat the Warriors without Davis but they suffer from his absence. Even if it’s not a concussion, it will take Davis some time to recover from a hard hit to the head.

Davis and James (25 points, nine rebounds) played well and the Lakers weren’t awful in Game 5. But ‘weren’t awful’ doesn’t clinch a series. The Warriors were just better. The Lakers had shot 56% from the field and 46% on 3-pointers midway through the third quarter and still trailed by 15 points.

Golden State’s run late in the second quarter through the first three minutes of the third quarter turned a 54-54 score into a 79-61 Warriors edge. That was the difference.

The Lakers wasted too many possessions, committing 14 turnovers, turning into 20 Warriors points, and they didn’t attempt as many free throws (15) as they would have liked.

“The main thing for us is recovery,” Ham said just less than 48 hours before the next game.

Los Angeles took a 3-1 lead against Memphis in the first round and finished the series at home. James said he wanted the Lakers to approach that Game 6 like a Game 7. He said the same holds true for Friday’s game.

James dismissed the Lakers’ 6-0 postseason record at home. The one that matters most is the next one.

They prefer it’s with Davis in the lineup.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY