The sense of relief was palpable in the Smoothie King Center on Monday.
After three days of tests and examinations, it was revealed Anthony Davis suffered no structural damage to his midsection, meaning the New Orleans Pelicans’ superstar is listed as a day-to-day absence due to a left adductor strain.
While neither the team nor Davis revealed an exact timeline for his return, it’s clear he won’t be serving a prolonged stay on the injury report. Considering the dramatic appearance of his injury during Friday’s loss in Utah — falling to a heap, writhing in pain and requiring a wheelchair to reach the locker room — there was much consternation about the potential severity.
“Tried to just go for a rebound and a sharp, deep pain and that was it,” Davis said. “It’s hard to explain. It’s something I haven’t felt before.”
The mystery of the ailment unraveled throughout the weekend. An MRI on Saturday in Portland revealed inconclusive results, prompting the team to wait until it returned home on Sunday in order to garner a more detailed look and further analysis.
The Pelicans didn’t release information until Monday afternoon, after the team’s medical staff was given ample time to confer and examine. In the end, they couldn’t find any significant injury, ensuring Davis is overwhelmingly likely to miss just a handful of games.
“They wanted to do another MRI here with the people who work here,” Davis said. “I mean, it’s good that they’re not finding anything, obviously. Of course, we don’t want anything drastic. That said, I’m still having that pain. I still want to narrow that down and take care of that before I do anything else.”
The lingering pain has kept Davis from participating in basketball workouts and sidelined him for Monday’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors. While most of his range of motion is still intact, Davis admitted there are certain types of cuts and pivots that still produce sharp pain.
Overall, the Pelicans were grateful the conversation is about situational pain thresholds rather than surgical options, as many in the organization initially feared.
“Very much so,” Gentry said. “The fact that he’s day-to-day, I think, is great. We’ll just work him out, rehab it and see where he is every day. Hopefully, we hope sooner rather than later, but we’re still not going to take any chances with that.
“When it’s a non-contact injury, you always worry about the severity of it. The fact that it wasn’t … we all had everything crossed that we owned. The fact that he’s going to hopefully be able to play soon is refreshing to us.”
It’s the latest travail in a long line of Davis’ injuries.
The All-NBA forward has appeared in 70 games just once in five full-length NBA seasons, logging 75 last year. He’s missed three thus far this year.
Davis is averaging 25.2 points per game in 34.9 minutes, shooting 57.3 percent, ranking among the NBA’s Top 10 in each category. More importantly, the Pelicans are 5.3 points more than their opponents per 100 possessions in his 733 minutes.
Davis, though, has battled some ailments this season, including minor knee swelling in October (MRI results revealed no structural damage then, too) and then a concussion-turned-orbital bone bruise above his right eye in November.
He also exited 12 different games during the 2016-17 season due to a variety of injuries, during which the Pelicans went 5-7, ranging from a sprained thumb to lower back troubles.
Now, as he rehabs from the adductor strain, Davis said he’s pushing through pain and eager to help contribute to a team fighting in a crowded Western Conference playoff race.
“I am just trying to get better every day and come back on the floor with these guys,” Davis said. “Getting better every day, not quite there yet. But it’s been getting better for the most part.”