Davis says injuries 'a big factor' as Lakers NBA title defence folds

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Anthony Davis limped out of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers' season-ending loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, a sight that the star forward and teammate LeBron James said summed up their season.

"I think health played a big part in the position we were in," Davis said after the Suns beat the Lakers 113-100 to wrap up a 4-2 triumph in their best-of-seven Western conference first-round playoff series.

"Me missing 30 games, Bron missing an extensive amount of games... we just weren't healthy. We were very healthy last year, it just wasn't the same this year. And we couldn't have our full product on the floor."

Davis missed half of the 72-game regular season because of a string of injuries.

He was already nursing a sore knee when he suffered a groin strain in game four against Phoenix, sitting out the second half and all of game five before trying to return.

He lasted less than six scoreless minutes, while Suns guard Devin Booker scored 22 points in the first quarter as Phoenix seized control on the way to a wire-to-wire victory.

Booker would finish with 47 points and James, who missed more than 20 games this season with a high right ankle sprain, couldn't counter.

James said it wouldn't be Thursday's defeat -- or even losing the last three games of the series against the Suns -- that he'd look back on with regret.

"The one thing that bothers me more than anything is we never got an opportunity to see our full team," James said.

"We could never fully get into a rhythm, we could never see the full potential of what we were capable of."

After their Finals triumph over the Miami Heat in the NBA's quarantine bubble last season, the Lakers knew a repeat would be a daunting task.

Every team has dealt with the league's ongoing coronavirus protocols, with constant testing and contact tracing that has led to players missing time on court.

"From the moment we entered the bubble to today it's been draining," James said. "Mentally, spiritually, emotionally draining.

"Every team has to deal with it, obviously, but with us and Miami going long-haul in the bubble and coming back on short notice, it's been very draining," he said.

"But all in all I give my hat's off to everyone in this team who showed up every day to work, showed up every day to compete, showed up every day to put in the time and the effort."