The reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are dealing with adversity for the first time this season given a slump that has coincided with an injury to Anthony Davis, but the All-Star forward said nobody was reaching for the panic button.
Davis, the Lakers' second-leading scorer behind LeBron James, suffered a calf strain on Feb. 14 that will keep him sidelined until around mid-March and the team have gone 2-4 during his absence.
"Obviously it's frustrating that we are losing and we want to win, we want to win every game but it's a time for us to get better and fix the things we need to fix," Davis told Reuters in a video interview. "We are not at all rattled or worried."
The injury to Davis left a huge hole in the lineup that was compounded by the absence of starting point guard Dennis Schroder, who returned to action only last Friday after missing four games due to the NBA's health and safety protocols.
While Schroder's return provided a boost during a pair of wins over the weekend, carrying on for an extended stretch without Davis will undoubtedly prove challenging.
Davis, who is promoting a new commercial with Ruffles potato chips that will air during the NBA's All-Star Game on March 7, said every championship team had the added pressure of facing each opponent's best effort every night.
"We've had games this year where we play a team and they shoot lights out, don't miss a shot, and then the following game they don't make a shot," said Davis.
"It comes with the territory. When you are the defending champion it's a lot harder to repeat, the target on your back is a lot bigger and every team wants to beat the champs."
While no team wants to be without one of their top scorers, Davis does feel his absence could pay long-term dividends as it opens the door for pivotal role players to come off the bench and log confidence-building minutes ahead of the playoffs.
"You don't win playoff games and championships without your role players," said Davis. "And that's on every championship team, their role players contributed a ton.
"It's a good time for our role players to get going, find a great rhythm, especially leading into the (All-Star) break, decompress and then come back with that same rhythm to help us all the way through the second half of the season."
Despite not being able to compete, Davis has managed to remain very involved with the team and can be seen on the sidelines during games helping his team mates to break down video replays during stoppages in play.
"Injuries are part of the game so I have to do the best I can to help the team off the floor at this time but it's tough. You want to be in the fight with the guys," said Davis, adding that he was feeling better each day.
"But we'll figure it out. We'll figure this out and get back going on the path that everyone is used to with the Lakers."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Clare Fallon)