Even though the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons, the talk of the game is going to revolve around the incident that occurred between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart.
James seemed to inadvertently hit Stewart in the face and the Pistons big man did not take kindly to it, which quickly escalated into a nasty situation where he charged toward the Lakers and James. The Lakers star was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul for the hit and was ejected from the game, leaving Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook to try and lead a comeback.
Davis and Westbrook would do just that, however, making plays on both ends of the court and asserting their will in the fourth quarter. Davis explained afterward that he and Westbrook’s extra level of aggression was not a response to James leaving. “No, we just needed the win,” Davis said. “At the end of the third I think we were down 15 and Melo said ‘this is where we figure out who we are as a team.’
“We were able to get the win and we needed it. Hopefully it’s gonna spark a little fire under our you-know-what to keep going. But it feels good to get back in the win column.”
It looked like L.A. was well on its way to another embarrassing finish, but Davis believes he and the rest of the team was able to stay poised, which he believes can be a building block for future success.
“You just got to stay loose and stay ready. You get a break like that, especially when a situation like that happens, the most important thing and the No. 1 thing is you don’t want anybody to get hurt. Their side, their players might feel a certain way and our players might feel a certain way, but you don’t want anybody to get hurt out there.
“But I think we stayed composed and we had it in our minds that we wanted to win this game, no matter what the circumstance was, no matter what the score was, we wanted to win this game and we did it, especially in the fourth quarter, playing how we’re supposed to play, making the right reads, guys shooting in rhythm. We played our best defensive quarter this season in the fourth, holding them to 17 points. So we got to build off of this, especially on the defensive end.”
It was the kind of second-half performance that should provide some optimism that the Lakers are on the right track, though it remains to be seen if they will be able to replicate it when they take on the New York Knicks next.
Davis explains what changed with defense
Defensive breakdowns have been far too common for Los Angeles this season, though there were positive steps they took against Detroit. Davis detailed how he and the team were able to adjust and get the stops they needed.
“We’re having too many problems with straight-line drives and blow-bys, which are compromising our defense and putting guys in rotations too early,” Davis explained.
“So we got to do a better job of containing the basketball, but the last 5-6 minutes of the game, we were able to do that. And I think when we’re getting good rhythm shots and not being selfish offensively, it kind of gets us back in transition and gives us a chance to set our defense and that’s when we’re really good.”
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