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Anthony Davis out at least four weeks with MCL sprain in left knee

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 17: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after getting injured in the third quarter. Davis did not return against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on December 17, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Lakers 110-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

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Anthony Davis — part of the Lakers’ core and their best center — will be out for at least four weeks after an MRI revealed an MCL sprain in his left knee, the team announced Saturday.

Davis suffered the knee injury Friday night in Minnesota and traveled with the team to Chicago, where he had an MRI. The good news is this is not a tear or other injury that will require surgery and a longer recovery. However, it will have Davis off until at least mid-January.

The injury happened in the second half against the Timberwolves when LeBron James was called for an offensive foul, pushing off Jaden McDaniels. The contact knocked McDaniels off balance, causing him to fall backward into Davis’ knee. Davis was on the ground grabbing his knee pain, and immediately left the game and went back to the locker room.

Davis has been the Lakers’ best center and interior defender (the Laker defense is 3.3 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court). Davis averages 23.3 points and 10 rebounds a game. He has not become the consistent No. 1 option the Lakers hoped he would be, in part because his outside shot has not been the same outside the bubble (17.9% from 3 this season). Still, he has been critical to the Lakers’ success.

Without Davis, Frank Vogel may be forced to use more traditional center lineups with Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan, which the Lakers have used less and less of late. Los Angeles may use more LeBron at center lineups, but he can only do that for so long.

The Lakers are 16-14 on the season but have found more of a groove lately because the defense that held them back earlier in the season has been improved of late (fourth in the NBA over their last 6 games). They signed Russell Westbrook in the offseason in part to take on more of the offense and lift the team up should Davis or LeBron be out for an extended period. The spotlight is on him now.