The Los Angeles Lakers’ first game after the All-Star break was an extremely promising one. LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for just 25 points and D’Angelo Russell left early with a sprained ankle, but the Lakers still comfortably defeated the Golden State Warriors 124-111 for their second consecutive blowout victory.
It was Malik Beasley and Austin Reaves who stepped up offensively on this night, but the main story coming out of this game was once again how improved these new-look Lakers were. But Davis knows there is still plenty of room for growth in this group.
“We’re still figuring it out,” Davis said after the win. “Had a practice yesterday and we’ll do some stuff tomorrow. Keep getting better one game at a time. But like I said, the pieces we added to our defense and our offense look really good.
“I think we’re playing well, clicking, and we know that we don’t have much time so even though we have a couple practices, we still try to figure things out on the fly and that constant communication is helping as well. The past two games we’ve looked really good as a whole, hopefully D-Lo’s injury isn’t severe to where he misses time but I think we have a complete team where we’ll be able to make a little run.”
Building chemistry takes time, but it is clear that the fit of this group is much better than earlier in the season and the depth is much greater as well. Perhaps most important was the fact that Davis and LeBron played just 26 minutes apiece in a blowout win.
“It’s very huge,” Davis said. “Especially as we’re getting closer and closer down the stretch, our minutes are going to increase so if we can come out and do what we’re supposed to do early, put teams away and give ourselves a chance to rest even more and other starters as well, and then also gives a chance for our other guys like Wenyen and Lonnie, D. Reed to go out and get a rhythm as well because you never know when you need those guys too. So it’s always good to be able to sit out in the fourth quarter with a convincing lead.”
Lessening the burden and workload on LeBron and Davis is something the Lakers have rarely been able to do with both needing to put forth outstanding performances in big minutes for the team to get the win. Ideally they will be fresher when those nights come which could be soon considering the Lakers’ upcoming three-game road trip.
And Davis is looking forward to the Lakers testing themselves and seeing where they stand. “Tonight was a challenge in itself, they didn’t have Steph but they’re still a really good basketball team with Jordan Poole, Draymond and Klay,” the Lakers big man noted.
“And then like I said, coming up with Dallas, Memphis and OKC, all of these that we’re chasing so it’s gonna be a good test for us on the road. We’ll see what our team really looks like but I’m very confident in our team going into any game.”
The Lakers have a lot of games against teams ahead of them in the standings. Continuing to look impressive against their upcoming competition will only further increase the confidence in this team to make a run to the playoffs.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham won’t sit out Anthony Davis or LeBron James unless injured
While they were able to survive on this night with less-than-stellar performances from their two stars, the success of this Lakers season will still come down to James and Davis being dominant more often than not. But with LeBron being in his 20th season and Davis’ injury history, the pair have often sat out games for rest purposes.
But head coach Darvin Ham doesn’t anticipate that happening for this stretch run. “Yeah, barring any type of injury, I don’t see anyone being out of the lineup,” Ham said prior to the Lakers’ Thursday night contest against the Golden State Warriors.
“Obviously we’ll have to cross those bridges when we come to them, but from my gut and talking to the guys and everybody getting excited about the new additions, excited about the potential we have and the run we can go on in the next 23 games, we’ll manage how we need to manage on non-game days. But I expect everybody to be suited up.”
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