The Los Angeles Lakers’ victory over the Portland Trail Blazers was not a pretty contest to say the least with both teams struggling with missed shots and sloppy play at different points throughout the night. The difference in the end, and what allowed the Lakers to come away with a win, was the play of Anthony Davis.
The Lakers’ big man was the best player on the court and quite frankly would not let the Lakers lose on this night. Davis finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks in the Lakers’ five-point win, but it was his aggression and fight in the fourth quarter that carried the team down the stretch.
Davis was relentless on both ends of the floor, coming up with huge offensive rebounds, challenging shots on defense, and attacking the Trail Blazers every time on offense, usually leading to fouls and easy points for the Lakers. When asked about the extra aggression, Davis had a simple response.
“Just trying to get back to my old self. Playing with a lot of energy. Playing till exhaustion,” Davis said. “There were just things that happened in the game. At the end of the third, I was upset at our last shot, we ended up giving them the last shot. I think CJ [McCollum] made the pull-up. But just trying not to lose the game.
“We lost three in a row. We had this game won, we had the Atlanta game won. Just didn’t want to trick this one off. Me, Malik and Melo felt like we were trying to when we were missing our free throws from the line. Just playing with energy and the force the team needs me to play with to win games. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
After three straight losses to end their road trip, Davis and the Lakers certainly needed to do any and everything to come out with a victory and they did just that. Especially coming off a disappointing loss in Atlanta in which things crumbled late, Davis says the Lakers were not happy and were determined to turn things around on this night.
“Just trying to lead the team. I think we all kind of felt some type of way after that Atlanta loss. Just tried to come out with the mindset of ending this streak. We have a couple at home. Play with force, play with urgency. It was a hard-fought game. This team is capable of scoring at will. They have a lot of shooters. We just fought. We just fought hard tonight. It was a great game for us.”
Things looked to be going that way for the Lakers as they jumped out to an early 13 point lead, but Portland was able to fight back and even had the lead going into the fourth quarter before Davis put the Lakers on his back.
Davis’ 14 free throw attempts were his most in any game this season and is proof of his attacking mindset on this night. It seemed every Lakers possession down the stretch either ended with a Davis shot, or a rebound to give the team an extra possession and this is what the team will need moving forward from their star big man.
Davis knows Lakers need to be better at free throws
The Lakers as a team shot 22-for-33 from the free-throw line, missing a few late when they could’ve put the game on ice sooner.
Davis himself shot 10-for-14 from the strip and knows he and his teammates need to be better.
“I think we’re in the bottom half of the league in free throw shooting. We have good free throw shooters we just have to take our time and make them. I think we missed 11 in the Atlanta game. That’s how you win and lose games. If we would’ve lost tonight that would’ve been a reason, cause we missed so many free throws.
“I’m not sure how many we missed today. Eleven. We definitely have to do a better job of that category. Take our time. Take our deep breaths or whatever your routine is and concentrate and knock our free throws down. That definitely can cost you games, and it can also win you games, so we have to lock in more at the line.”
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