If the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have any chance at making a run in the playoffs this season, it will require both LeBron James and Anthony Davis to be dominant. In LeBron’s first game back with the team in a month, that was not the case.
James finished with a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds but also committed five turnovers as he tried to shake off a little rust. Meanwhile, Davis was hounded by the Chicago Bulls all game while also dealing with foul trouble, taking just eight shots to finish with 15 points and nine rebounds in the Lakers’ 10-point loss.
But even though there were some issues, Davis believes the Lakers have the time to get things on track. “Obviously, like I said, he’s a big part of our team,” Davis said of LeBron. “Him coming back with eight games left, it gives us the time to work out the kinks that we have when a guy misses so much time. It gives him time to get back in a rhythm of things for his game.
“Then two games left, three games left. Even though he’s a hell of a player, he can use one game and be fine. But we’ll be fine. Like I said, we’ve got another one against these guys on Wednesday, but we know these last seven we’ve got to come out and play with more of a sense of desperation.”
There should be no lack of desperation for the Lakers at this stage of the season with just seven games remaining and their playoff hopes on the line. An adjustment period with LeBron’s return is necessary, but they will have to figure things out quickly. James being back does raise the ceiling on what the Lakers are capable of and his return this quickly was unexpected, even by Davis himself.
“Today,” Davis responded when asked when he knew LeBron would return. “They said he was going to warm up and see how it feels. I know he was feeling good through the whole process. He kept me updated. … I didn’t expect him to come back so soon, but he trusts his doctors, he trusts himself and he was able to come back today. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win, but he’s feeling good. It would be good to have him for the next seven where we can finish this thing out.”
Now the goal is to get Davis and LeBron dominating at the same time. Each has had their best stretch of games while the other was out, but Davis believes the key is just to not overthink things.
“There’s no trick. It’s just out coming out playing Lakers basketball,” Davis added. “It’s not a two-man show. We got other guys who make our job easier when guys are making shots and we’re playing off fastbreak points and not taking the ball out of the net the entire time. Then we’re able to flourish. Both of us.
“Just come out and just be LeBron James and Anthony Davis. All the other guys are going to just be themselves. Don’t overthink it. Don’t put too much pressure on ourselves. Just go out and have fun and play basketball.”
This roster is undoubtedly capable of doing some great things, but the clock is ticking and the Lakers must put it all together in a very short amount of time.
Lakers fall to No. 9 in West after loss to Bulls
Every game matters down the stretch for these Lakers and the team now finds themselves in ninth in the Western Conference following this loss to the Chicago Bulls. But things remain extremely tight.
The Lakers are just a half game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for eighth, one game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves for seventh and only 1.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors for sixth, which would take them out of the Play-In Tournament completely.
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