Lakers’ Davis cleared for practice, nearing return


LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis has been cleared for full-contact practice and his return to game action is imminent, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Thursday.

It’s been a while since Vogel has had a reason to smile when asked about the health of his players — the latest injury the team is dealing with is a right foot infection for starting point guard Dennis Schroder. However, Vogel broke out a grin when asked about Davis being re-evaluated by L.A.’s medical staff two months after leaving the lineup with a calf strain and tendinosis in his right leg.

“Good news,” Vogel said.

Davis, 28, will sit out Thursday’s game against the Boston Celtics and is “unlikely” to play in the Lakers’ upcoming two-game set against the Utah Jazz on Saturday and Monday, according to Vogel. The coach left the door slightly ajar though, adding it is “not out of the question” for Davis to make his return against Utah.

Vogel said with certainty that Davis will be eased into the workload he assumed prior to being sidelined Feb. 14 when he planted his foot wrong against the Denver Nuggets.

“Whenever it is that he returns, it’s not going to be a full return to playing 30-something minutes a night,” Vogel said. “Especially with the nature of practice and how shorthanded we are, he’s going to have to use some games to try to get himself back in shape. So the first two games he’s back will likely be short-minute performances.”

Vogel said he would initially restrict Davis’ playing time to the 15-minute range.

Davis averaged 22.3 points on 53.3% shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals in 32.8 minutes per game this season before getting hurt.

The Lakers went 13-14 in the 27 straight games Davis missed coming into Thursday, falling from No. 2 to No. 5 in the Western Conference standings.

“He’s eager to get back out,” Vogel said. “That’s the biggest thing. He’s tired of being a patient and ready to be a player again. So, he’s eager to get to work in real practice the next few days — live work — and even more eager to get back on the floor and obviously that’s going to give our whole group a big lift.”

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