- Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
- Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.
LOS ANGELES — With the Los Angeles Lakers’ season on the line, Anthony Davis will return to the lineup Thursday after missing the previous game and a half of L.A.’s first-round series against the Phoenix Suns with a strained groin, the team announced.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters before the game that the decision to play Davis or not would come down to L.A.’s medical staff after they evaluated Davis at the arena.
The seventh-seeded Lakers trail the second-seeded Suns 3-2 in the series, and a loss Thursday would make L.A. just the sixth defending champion in league history to lose in the first round of the playoffs the following year.
Phoenix, on the other hand, could win a playoff series for the first time since 2010.
The Suns anticipated Davis — who averaged 34 points and 10.5 rebounds in L.A.’s two wins in the series — would be available.
“We’ve prepared for Anthony to play,” Suns coach Monty Williams said before the game.
Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who missed Game 4 and exited Game 5 early because of a sore left knee, will also play, Vogel said.
Marc Gasol will start over Andre Drummond at center.
With L.A. needing a win to extend its season, Vogel was asked whether he would allow Davis and Caldwell-Pope a longer leash to push through their injuries than he normally would.
“I mean, it’s just a feel thing,” he said. “We’ll be communicating with the medical staff throughout, and obviously the coaching staff and I will be evaluating and measuring how well those guys are moving if they’re in there. … So we’ll look at the first half, each minute, each play, and evaluate that throughout the night.”
Following the Lakers’ 30-point loss in Game 5, Vogel said his team would “find out what we’re made of” come Game 6.
He was reminded of the quote before the game and asked whether he had any indication of how the Lakers would respond with the moment fast upon them.
“We’ll find out tonight,” Vogel said. “I know in the walk-through today and yesterday’s film session, our guys were in good spirits and confident and ready to go. So I feel like we’re going to have a good night.”
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