The Los Angeles Lakers chalked up a statement win on Wednesday, beating the Miami Heat 120-117 after overtime.
L.A. badly needed a victory over an aspiring NBA title contender after weeks marred by lukewarm performance and piling up injuries. Ahead of the clash against Miami, the Lakers lost Rajon Rondo and Austin Reaves to hamstring problems while already approaching the game without LeBron James, Kendrick Nunn, Trevor Ariza, and Talen Horton-Tucker.
But Los Angeles collected a gritty win over one of the NBA’s most balanced teams thanks to red-hot shooting, aggressiveness in the paint, and an improved defensive effort. L.A. has won its second game in a row since falling to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday — a defeat marked by a lack of determination on the floor.
Besides the motivation provided by the continuous adversity early in the season, Anthony Davis says the upsetting weekend loss triggered the Lakers.
“Next man up mentality,” Davis said. “We all came today and found out that ‘Do’ [Rajon Rondo] and AR [Austin Reaves] were going to be out. It was kind unexpected to a lot of guys. We didn’t know anything about it.
“After that Portland loss, we took that personal. We’re not that type of team. No energy, no effort, a little bit of selfishness. We just tried to change that and get wins with 8-man rotations, 9-man rotations. Trying to find ways to get wins while everyone is getting back healthy.
“These last two games have definitely been fun, for sure. Guys are having fun, guys are starting to realize how good of a team we are. We just have to continue to keep that mindset and continue to win on our home floor.”
Davis was satisfied with the Lakers’ playmaking from within the paint, which led to numerous open looks for their shooters. L.A. made a season-high 18 three-pointers on Wednesday, shooting 47.4% from beyond the arc.
“They try to protect the paint, and we just have to make the reads,” Davis said.
“We got some great looks, some wide-open threes that we missed. Then we got a lot that we made. Just trying to figure out how to play to a team’s weakness and use it to our strength. We were able to attack the gaps, attack the paint and kick it out to our shooters. We made shots tonight.”
Malik Monk emerged as the night’s unexpected hero, chipping in a season-high 27 points while shooting 10-for-13 from the field and 4-for-7 from downtown.
Davis: Hectic end to win over Heat a “learning experience” for Lakers
The Lakers could have beaten Miami in regulation if they stopped P.J. Tucker’s putback dunk after a miss from Tyler Herro in the last seconds of the fourth quarter. L.A. also gave up a few decent looks toward the end of the clash, which could have backfired and allowed the Heat to snatch the win away.
Davis says the Lakers need to do a better job to watch the players they are supposed to cover.
“Just boxing out,” he said. “We could’ve won in regulation if we boxed out P.J. Tucker but that’s a learning experience for us. For the most part, especially in overtime we did a great job of boxing out and limiting them to one shot.
“If we hold teams to one shot, it gives us a chance to get out and run and make shots, and we did that in overtime. We just have to continue to not watch the ball as shots go up but turn and find guys, put a body on them, and go for the ball. If we continue to do that and have that mindset, we’ll come out fine.”
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