Whew. That was a close one.
Who wasn’t thinking the worst Wednesday?
There was Anthony Davis writhing in pain on the court and then, after what seemed like an eternity spent lying on his back while being attended to, very slowly being assisted to the locker room, not back by the Pelicans bench but through the visiting team tunnel all to get there quicker.
And even after he made a Willis Reed-like return a few minutes later, the word after the 93-85 loss to Denver sounded ominous — an MRI to be conducted Thursday.
Goodbye winning streak.
Goodbye to AD starting in the All-Star Game two weeks from now.
Goodbye to his Most Valuable Player season just about the time the rest of the country was recognizing what we’ve been seeing night-in and night-out.
But on Thursday, the news wasn’t so dire — a Grade I adductor strain.
While obviously painful, it’s mild enough that Davis is listed as a game-time decision for Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
And while having Davis in the lineup seems vital if the Pels are to have a chance against the Clippers, who have won six straight (with ex-Pel Austin Rivers making solid contributions), Monty Williams wisely is not rushing his franchise player back into the lineup.
With red-hot Atlanta and Oklahoma City coming up next week to end the team’s six-game homestand, not aggravating the strain might be advisable.
We’ll leave that up to the trainers and medical staff.
What doesn’t take an expert eye to discern is that on Wednesday the Pels reverted to playing down to the level of their opponent.
Denver came in on a seven-game losing streak, pretty much ending whatever playoff hopes the Nuggets held, although the last three defeats had been by a total of seven points.
And, sure enough, the team that beat the Pels 117-97 back in November did exactly what it did before — coming out aggressively from the start — shooting 59.1 percent the first quarter with the starters playing the whole way — taking advantage of a speed advantage at guard that resulted in 11 assists out of 13 baskets.
If there’s been a game when the Pels truly missed Jrue Holiday (now out for nine games with a return before the All-Star break unlikely), it was this one.
They did rally in Davis’ absence to briefly take the lead, but trailed for the final 11 minutes and didn’t score for the final 2:55 after Eric Gordon’s 3-pointer (he was otherwise 3 of 14) had cut the deficit to one.
For those keeping count, that’s eight losses to teams that currently have losing records, including four in the last seven such encounters.
Obviously, outcomes like Wednesday’s happen. Teams with lesser records won six of 11 games on Wednesday.
But to keep pace with Phoenix — whom the Pels trail by 2½ games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West — they can’t afford to lose games like Wednesday’s, especially at home.
They can’t hit three of 15 3-pointers when the other team is going 10 of 17, and they can’t have half as many assists (15 to 30) and less than half as many bench points (15 to 31) as the other guys.
Without improvements in those areas, it won’t matter if Davis is playing or not.
Hurry back anyway, AD.