LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis managed less than 5 1/2 minutes in his return to the Lakers’ starting lineup Thursday night before leaving in clear pain from his groin injury as Los Angeles faced playoff elimination in Game 6 of its first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.
After missing the previous 1 1/2 games, Davis suited up for Game 6 and attempted to play. But the superstar big man looked tentative and lacked any explosive ability while failing to take a shot, and he went down in a heap in front of the Lakers’ bench with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Los Angeles’ medical staff attended to Davis and escorted him to the locker room. The Lakers said Davis was questionable to return to the franchise’s first playoff elimination game since 2013, which the Suns led 36-14 after the first quarter.
Davis missed the second half of Game 4 and all of Game 5 after the eight-time All-Star injured his groin last weekend at Staples Center. The defending NBA champion Lakers lost both games to fall to a 3-2 series deficit and the brink of an early postseason exit.
Davis scored 34 points apiece while leading the Lakers to victories in Games 2 and 3, but his tentative play in Game 1 was a key factor in Los Angeles’ series-opening loss. The oft-injured Davis already was limping on a balky knee before injuring his groin, and he missed 30 straight games during the regular season with two right leg injuries, only returning in late April.
Davis went through two days of rest and recovery before a workout before Game 6 during which the Lakers’ medical staff determined he could attempt to play in Game 6. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Davis was determined to play, but wanted to be mobile enough to contribute.
Davis didn’t look mobile at all, and the Lakers were forced to move forward without him in possibly the final game of a season defined by injuries to their two biggest stars, Davis and LeBron James.
Lakers starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also was in the lineup after missing Game 4 and playing just 15 minutes in Game 5 due to a bruised knee. Caldwell-Pope was the third-leading scorer on LA’s championship team and the Lakers’ best 3-point shooter this season, but he took just one shot in Game 5 before sitting out.