As center Thomas Bryant checked out of the game during the third quarter, Davis pulled him aside, showing him a play on a tablet screen.
“We’ll see, man,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said before the game. “We’re going to put our arms around him, we’re going to love on him — and I told him just be ready to coach your ass off.”
Though the Lakers haven’t provided an official update on Davis’ sore right foot and have given no timeline for his recovery, the sense is the injury is significant and Davis is set to miss a good chunk of time, according to sources close to the situation not authorized to speak publicly.
Davis watched the Lakers defeat the Washington Wizards 119-117 at Crypto.com Arena, the beginning of a tough stretch in which they play just one more game at home before the end of December.
Bryant, who replaced Davis in the starting lineup, scored the game-winning points on a two-handed dunk with 7.1 seconds left after LeBron James recovered a loose ball and found him for the assist.
“I’m just happy to get this W,” Ham said. “Whew, it’s hard to win in this league.”
James led the Lakers (13-16) with 33 points and nine assists. Lonnie Walker IV had 21 points, and Bryant finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers have won three of four.
Former Laker Kyle Kuzma missed a three-point try in the final seconds that would have won it for Washington (11-20). Kuzma had 22 points and 16 rebounds. Bradley Beal scored 29 points for the Wizards, who have lost 10 consecutive games, including a 102-93 defeat Saturday to the Clippers at Crypto.com Arena.
The Lakers received the kind of balance they are seeking with their star big man out.
Davis is averaging 27.4 points and a career-best 12.1 rebounds per game this season. The Lakers are in 12th place in the Western Conference, though Davis has keyed a moderate resurgence.
The eight-time All-Star still was undergoing evaluations as of Sunday night, Ham said. Davis missed the second half of the Lakers’ win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night because of the foot injury.
Including early exits against Denver and Cleveland, Davis had been scoring 30.8 points on 63.9% shooting to go with 13.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.2 steals over his previous 14 games. The Lakers won nine of them.
“Injuries are a part of our league and a part of major sports in general, and unfortunately he’s had the injury history that he’s had,” Ham said. “But it’s no time to cry over spilt milk. The season is fairly early, and he just has to take care of his business starting with first and foremost getting back healthy.”
The Lakers didn’t look anywhere near healthy Sunday, Davis sitting with Patrick Beverley, Wenyen Gabriel and Juan Toscano-Anderson — all injured and out of uniform. Beverley missed the game because of a sore calf muscle. Gabriel said he hoped to return from a shoulder injury as soon as Monday night in Phoenix.
During Sunday’s game, James howled in pain when he hit the court after he was fouled driving to the basket, landing roughly on his thigh. Austin Reaves badly rolled an ankle in the second half when he stepped on Washington center Daniel Gafford’s foot.
He hobbled off the court and to the locker room before eventually reentering the game in the fourth quarter.
On the bad ankle, Reaves hit a pair of clutch floaters — the videoboard focusing on the back of a fan wearing his No. 15 jersey — to help the Lakers hold on for the win.
“It scared the hell out of me,” Ham said of Reaves’ injury.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Reaves came back into the game, but Ham pulled him after he sensed a limp. After being reassured by the Lakers’ medical staff and Reaves, Ham put him back in to finish the game.
“I just know I didn’t break my ankle,” Reaves said. “And I was always taught, if it ain’t broke, go play.”
The Lakers’ game Monday night in Phoenix is their first of seven on the road in their next eight.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.