Anthony Davis (back) vows to play when Lakers' postseason begins

AD exits game after apparent injury in 4th quarter (1:45)

Anthony Davis appears to suffer an injury in the fourth quarter and lays near the scorer's table before exiting to the locker room. (1:45)

NEW ORLEANS -- The regular season ended for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday with Anthony Davis in the locker room receiving treatment for back spasms after being shoved while in the air late in L.A.'s 124-108 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Davis vowed he will be back on the court Tuesday when the postseason begins for the Lakers, who clinched the No. 8 seed and a spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament -- a rematch with the No. 7 seed Pelicans. A first-round berth against the defending champion No. 2-seeded Denver Nuggets is on the line.

"No doubt that I'm going to play," Davis said after putting up 30 points on 13-for-17 shooting, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 33 minutes.

The Lakers big man -- who missed most of two losses last week to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors after getting hit in the face in the Minnesota game -- was dominant until there was 5:52 to go in the fourth quarter Sunday. That's when Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr. pushed Davis in the back while he was attempting to grab the offensive rebound after Lakers guard Gabe Vincent missed a layup.

Davis said the contact resulted in a "hyperextension" when he landed, adding that his "back just locked up."

He took umbrage with Nance's actions in the play.

"I was in the air," Davis said. "Obviously it's a dangerous play. I know he's not a dirty player."

Davis said he would have pushed himself to continue to play if it were a close game in a must-win situation. When he checked out with 5:22 remaining, limping toward the sideline before receiving treatment from his athletic trainer, Jon Ishop, L.A. was up by 21. The Lakers went on to win by 16.

Davis said he plans to test out heating pads he could wear underneath his jersey to keep his back loose Tuesday.

As great as Davis was before the setback, Lakers star LeBron James might have been even better.

James logged his fifth triple-double of the season, finishing with 28 points, a season-high 17 assists, 11 rebounds and 5 steals.

James had 13 assists in the first half, the most he has ever had in a half in 1,492 career games over 21 years in the NBA.

"I just read the game and I was just finding my teammates and I just tried to put the ball on time and on target for either jump shots or guys at the rim," James said. "I just tried to be very efficient with my play."

He also was the primary defender on the Pelicans' bruising Zion Williamson, helping to limit the explosive forward to just 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting. Williamson committed four turnovers.

"He's a beast," James said. "I mean, it's almost impossible to stop him so I just tried to keep a body on him and just tried to keep it tough on him. He's a great player, man."

The Lakers came into the day with several postseason scenarios possible, but thanks to a Phoenix Suns win over the Timberwolves, combined with the win over the Pelicans, they locked up the No. 8 spot and another road game in New Orleans on Tuesday.

All while not needing to hop on a plane and fly to another city.

"Tuesday's game is going to be extremely hard, extremely difficult, extremely physical," James said. "I've always known that, when you play a playoff series -- and I look at this like a two-game playoff series -- if you win that first game, a team has multiple days to kind of sit on that feeling, or sit with that taste in their mouth of defeat. So they're going to be extremely ready for us and we have to come in with the same sense of urgency that we had the previous game."

The numbers back James up. Not counting the NBA bubble in 2020, when all games were played in a neutral location, only 19 of the 342 first-round series in league history have started with the road team going up 2-0, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

L.A. is now 3-1 on the season against New Orleans, including two high-leverage situations in the in-season tournament semifinals and Sunday's game, when the Pelicans had a chance to avoid the play-in tournament by clinching the No. 6 seed and a first-round berth against Minnesota with a win.

"Just lean into what we did well," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of his team's approach for Tuesday. "Understanding that they may make adjustments in terms of their matchups. And just have a plan, a backup plan and an escape plan once we see what their response is to what we've done tonight.

"And so, the chess game has been ignited. And we're all for it."