Lakers' Anthony Davis vows to play Game 4 against Suns despite questionable status

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Lakers forward Anthony Davis blocks a shot by Suns guard Devin Booker during Game 3 on May 27, 2021, at Staples Center.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis blocks a shot by Suns guard Devin Booker during Game 3 on May 27, 2021, at Staples Center. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

On the official injury report, it’ll say “questionable,” but inside the head and heart of Anthony Davis, there’s barely a doubt.

After Davis sprained his left knee blocking Devin Booker’s shot in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, the Lakers are on the fence about Davis’ status for Sunday's Game 4.

But the Lakers’ star big man? He says he’ll be there.

“There’s no chance that I don’t play tomorrow,” Davis said defiantly on Saturday. “Obviously, I wanna see how I feel. It is playoffs, and I want to be on the floor. I’ll get examined tomorrow before the game and even later on tonight. But as a player, I’ve wanted to be in this moment — you want to be in the playoffs and help contribute. … I want to be out there.”

Want to and able to are two different things, lines the Lakers are walking with Davis and starting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who underwent an MRI examination on Saturday that showed no structural damage in and around his left knee. He’s listed as having a quadriceps contusion. Davis said he didn’t undergo an MRI.

Davis has been receiving treatment in an effort to reduce swelling, and with the Lakers on the cusp of a 3-1 series lead, Davis was resolute about his status.

“It’s going to be probably the biggest game of the series, I think, besides if Game 7 happens,” Davis said.

The Suns have their own injury concerns — Phoenix coach Monty Williams said Chris Paul had Saturday off to try to get his injured right shoulder as healthy as possible.

The Lakers, though, hope they’re built for this moment, even if they’re not whole.

“Kind of what this season … oddly prepared us for is the unknown,” guard Wesley Matthews said. He figures to be in line for an enhanced role if Caldwell-Pope is unable to play.

It’d be unfortunate for injuries to derail the momentum the Lakers have built over the last two games, the team combining a heightened sense of urgency with improving continuity in a pair of physically dominant wins.

Lakers-Suns schedule for first-round playoff series.
Lakers-Suns schedule for first-round playoff series. (Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)

“I expected this team, this organization, to lock in like we have. The attention to detail has gone up dramatically, like it always does with most teams,” Matthews said. “When you’re entering the playoffs, the postseason, you’re focusing on the little things, the details and every possession matters. So, and obviously when you have an all-time great with LeBron [James] and all the things that he sees and the staff that has been a part of championships and the organization that has been a part of championships, it’s kind of, it’s a switch flipper.”

That switch has given the Lakers a glimpse of what the team hoped it could be, a defensively dominant team built for playoff success.

“Now we’re here. So now we got a full, healthy roster so we can see where we were, what we can be, just like the beginning of the season where we were playing good basketball before the injuries,” Davis said. “So it’s been good having everyone available and ready to play. Everyone staying ready, getting their number called. They’ve bought in and contributed to our success and to our team wins.”

Now it’s on the Lakers to keep it going, to continue to set the tone early and send a message from the start about who they are and how they want to play.

“That’s who we always want to be, and when it doesn’t happen we’re disappointed in how that plays out,” Vogel said. “And the last two games, we wanted to have mindset to be the aggressors and be first to 50-50 balls, be the harder-playing team, team that hits harder. …That’s going to be the key to winning the next game, to winning Game 4. But that’s always supposed to be our identity, to be the harder-playing, more physical team.”

And to leave no questions about it.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.