Pelicans All-Star power forward Anthony Davis was held out of Wednesday night’s game against Phoenix to give his back more time to heal, coach Monty Williams said.
Davis has been suffering from back spasms since going into the stands while chasing a loose ball during the team’s game April 2 at Denver.
“It wasn’t improving at the rate that we felt that it should,” Williams said. “Back spasms for a week, that’s a different deal. When a guy wants to play but he’s not improving (and) you put him out there on the floor, do you make it worse? That’s the concern.”
Davis, in his second season after being the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft out of Kentucky, leads the Pelicans in scoring (20.8 points per game) and rebounding (10.0) and is first in the NBA in blocked shots (2.82). With just four games remaining after Wednesday night’s, Williams said he didn’t know whether Davis will be shut down for the rest of the season. He said he didn’t know whether the team would make a decision on a game-by-game basis, either.
“As desperately as I want to win, I don’t want to put anybody in jeopardy,” Williams said.
Williams said Tuesday that starting guard Eric Gordon, who has tendinitis in his left knee, would not play in the team’s remaining games. Gordon is in Los Angeles getting the knee evaluated.
Williams said Al-Farouq Aminu, who has played most of the past two seasons as the team’s starting small forward, will replace Davis at power forward.
Davis had not missed a game since injuring his back and has been adamant about playing. He came back for the next game Friday at Utah and played the first half, then sat out the third quarter before returning in the fourth. In the team’s final game of its three-game road trip Sunday, Davis played against Portland but clearly struggled.
Before the back injury, he had just come off an ankle injury that caused him to miss the game at San Antonio on March 29. Williams was asked whether the back spasms may have been the result of Davis compensating for the ankle injury, but Williams chalked it up to youth.
“I think he’s growing, personally,” he said. “I think he’s probably got another inch left in him or he’s filling out. I watched his body develop from last year to this year. He’s a different person, physically. I just think he’s going through growing pains right now, and it’s just a byproduct. A lot of the bigger guys have these back spasms. … And I’ve heard some things about his growth plate. He’s just got to weather this right now.”