LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Lakers gathered around Anthony Davis while the forward writhed in pain on the Staples Centre floor.
Another breezy blowout win had just become much less fun for the team and their superstar big man, although it is too soon to say just how serious it will be for their championship dreams.
Davis left in the third quarter after bruising his lower back on a hard fall during their sixth straight National Basketball Association (NBA) victory, a 117-87 over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
He did not return and finished with five points on two-of-eight shooting, six rebounds and three steals in 28 minutes.
X-rays on his back were negative. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Davis would undergo more testing and they would provide an update when it is clear.
"Fingers crossed, hope for the best, pray for the best," Vogel said.
"He's one of our pillars. He's our present. He's our future. He's one of the best players in the world, so obviously he means a lot."
Lakers already lost DeMarcus Cousins in August to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But the centre was seen last week doing "light warm-up stuff", with Vogel adding then: "He's still a possibility to play this year."
It was left to LeBron James to play through an illness and pace the Western Conference leaders (30-7) with 31 points.
He also converted six of the team's 17 three-pointers.
Kyle Kuzma scored 16 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 15 and Avery Bradley added 12.
Rookie guard R.J. Barrett scored 19 points to top the Knicks (10-27), who were without leading scorer Marcus Morris with a sore neck.
Julius Randle, who collided with Davis, had 15 points as New York dropped their third straight game.
Bobby Portis was ejected early in the second quarter on a flagrant-2 foul after swatting Caldwell-Pope in the head on a lay-up but the Knicks forward said he was going for the ball.
Reggie Bullock, who started in place of Morris, was also assessed a flagrant-1 foul when he appeared to drag JaVale McGee down to the court by the shoulders.
According to The Athletic, the Knicks lead the league with seven flagrant fouls this season. They are also sixth in technical fouls with 34.
"They're a physical team," Vogel said. "That's what we've talked about for the last few days and we handled it and prevailed."
Separately, a group of nine Australian NBA players have committed US$750,000 (S$1.01 million) towards the relief and recovery efforts amid devastating bush fires in their home country, the league said on Tuesday.
Ben Simmons, Aron Baynes, Jonah Bolden, Ryan Broekhoff, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Thon Maker and Patty Mills make up the group that partnered the NBA and players' association to support organisations across Australia to aid relief efforts and long-term rebuilding projects.
ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS