The Eastern Conference finals turned scary late in the third quarter of Game 5 between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic, when Celtics forward Glen Davis(notes) caught a nasty errant elbow from Dwight Howard(notes) after the Orlando center's layup attempt was blocked by C's guard Nate Robinson(notes). From the Associated Press:
Davis was struck in the face by [Howard's] elbow, tumbling to the court as play went the other way. Davis tried to get up, only to fall again, and then was clearly dazed when he got to his feet.
He took a few more steps, then staggered toward [referee Joey] Crawford, who wrapped his arms around Davis to keep him upright as play stopped with 9.7 seconds left in the period. Davis was tended to on the court for a few minutes, then walked to the Celtics' bench and eventually toward the locker room for evaluation.
Celtics team physician Dr. Brian McKeon diagnosed Davis with a concussion, according to ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg, and the third-year player out of LSU did not return to the game. (WEEI.com's Paul Flannery wrote that he also thought he saw Davis lose at least one tooth, which was later confirmed by ESPN's Rachel Nichols.)
In postgame comments, Howard stressed that the elbow wasn't intentional and he wished Davis well: "I hope he's all right. He's a friend of mine. I never want to see anybody go down."
How long Davis will be down remains up in the air. After the game, according to the Boston Herald's Zach McCann, Baby said emphatically that he'd be on the court for Game 6 in Boston on Friday night:
"Point blank, I ain't speaking. I'm all right. I'll be back next game," Davis said before puzzlingly letting an expletive fly. "That's all you need to print."
The fact that he was less than two hours removed from having his brain knocked into his skull by a flying elbow might explain the "puzzling" nature of Davis' vulgarity. It also explains why, as McCann writes, when "the media horde crowded around Davis' locker, a trainer stepped in and said Davis wasn't in good enough condition to talk to reporters. The bright lights and attention from different directions are generally not good for a recently concussed individual."
Despite Baby's stated desire to play, as Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski Tweeted last night, he'll still need to be cleared by the Celtics' doctors to be allowed to play Friday.
The play on which Davis was injured looked similar to the one that saw Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans(notes) get hurt in March, after being on the receiving end of an Ersan Ilyasova(notes) elbow while vying for a rebound late in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks (hit the 0:41 mark). Evans also sustained a concussion, plus a bruised jaw, lacerated gums and a chipped tooth, and was sidelined for a five-game, 11-day stretch before returning to the Kings' lineup.
While Evans' injury wound up being more significant than it first appeared, Davis' looked bad right from the start. He seemed to go limp before he even hit the ground; when he got there, his limbs seemed oddly locked in place. After getting up and attempting to rejoin the play, his legs looked rubbery and he had great difficulty maintaining his balance.
It was a disconcerting sight on a basketball court, the shaky aftermath of a blunt-force injury seen much more commonly in combat sports, when boxers (like Zab Judah against Kostya Tszyu) or mixed martial artists (like Chuck Liddell against Rashad Evans) receive a blow directly to the point of the chin, on what's often referred to as "the button."
There's plenty of debate over why exactly a hard, straight shot on the button can so quickly turn out your lights — one of the more popular theories holds that the contact forces compression of a cluster of nerves that run behind the jawbone, with the shock temporarily short-circuiting your neurological system; another suggests that it's the exterior carotid artery being squeezed, temporarily cutting off blood flow to the brain. Whatever the reason it happens, it can, and it certainly seems like that's what happened to Davis.
Though he didn't appear to get clipped with quite the same impact as Davis, Celtics backup Marquis Daniels(notes) also left Game 5 with a concussion after running headfirst into Magic reserve center Marcin Gortat(notes) on a drive to the basket with Boston trailing by nine points early in the fourth quarter. Daniels said after the game that he didn't remember anything about the play, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. The little-used swingman's status for Game 6 is not yet clear.