The Los Angeles Lakers might be forced to try to keep their playoff hopes alive with Anthony Davis on the bench. L.A. fell into a 3-2 series hole against the Phoenix Suns onTuesday night as Davis nursed a groin strain, and LeBron James is ready for the superstar to miss a second straight contest.

“My mindset is that he’s not gonna be able to play in Game 6. That’s my mindset,” James told reporters after the Suns embarrassed the Lakers 115-85 in Game 5. “And if something changes, then we go from there. But I’m preparing as if he's not.”

No decision has been made about Davis’ status for Game 6. The contest is scheduled for Thursday night at the Staples Center, four days after the 28-year-old suffered the groin strain that forced him to miss the most recent matchup in Phoenix. Davis wasn’t officially ruled out of Game 5 until less than an hour before tipoff.

 

 

 

The Lakers didn’t look at all prepared to play the Suns without their second-best player. Game 5 felt out of reach for Los Angeles before halftime as Phoenix outscored the defending champs 32-10 in the second quarter. James had seven points and three turnovers in the first two quarters, unable to keep his team competitive.

“What was going through my mind was, ‘They're kicking our ass,’” James said when asked what he and Davis were thinking while they were in the locker room getting treatment during the fourth quarter. “But at the end of the day, it’s one game. It’s one game, and they did what they were supposed to do. They held serve at home, and we go back and we have an opportunity to even the series back out again. That was really the two things that were going on in my mind.”

There’s speculation that the high ankle sprain that cost James a large chunk of the regular season is still affecting his play. The four-time NBA Finals MVP is averaging 22.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game this series. Those stats don’t compare to some of the monster numbers James has put up in recent postseasons.

James got little help from his teammates in Game 5. Markieff Morris, who started in place of Davis, scored four points in 10 minutes. Starters Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both failed to score a single point in 41 combined minutes. Aside from James, the Lakers shot 6-of-25 from three-point range.

Davis averaged 34.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while playing stellar defense in the Lakers’ wins this series. If that production isn’t available in Game 6, the Lakers might need a superhuman effort from James in order to stave off elimination.

The Lakers are early three-point favorites over the Suns in Game 6.

LeBron James Anthony Davis Lakers LeBron James #23 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on February 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images