Even with Anthony Davis back in the starting lineup, the Los Angeles Lakers disappointingly let go of a double-digit lead and fell to the Atlanta Hawks to close out their road trip on Sunday afternoon.
Davis returned after missing one game with a wrist injury and looked like his dominant self on both ends of the floor. The big man had 27 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block, but turned up empty in the fourth quarter on several jumpers.
The late-game execution without LeBron James was sorely lacking and Davis said the Lakers need to be better in that area if they want to win these kinds of games.
“We’ve been there, we just got to find ways to get over the hump. There’s no excuse for us losing this game tonight obviously, but down the stretch, I think our execution has to be better on both ends of the ball. Trae got free a couple of times and hit some tough threes, but guys like Trae and Steph, they make those, so we have to force those guys to play inside the perimeter. We kind of let him get a little free tonight, especially towards the end. We kind of had him contained a little bit and then he got free towards the end of the game.
“We only scored 20 points and they had a 38-point fourth quarter, so we had the game, just got to do a better job on our execution on both ends of the floor and I think if we were able to do that, we would’ve given ourselves a better chance of winning this game.”
While it would be easy to be down on the Lakers after another dispiriting loss, Davis maintained they can be the team they envisioned as soon as everyone can get back healthy.
“I still believe that we got a good team,” Davis said. “We just haven’t been all the way healthy for our team with all our players. Bron is now out, I just came back. I think the most frustrating part is that we just can’t finish games. We had a lot of games that we had won and teams come back and beat us. So that’s the frustrating part, like we’re frustrated right now because we were supposed to win this game. It’s self-inflicted mistakes, so that’s the frustrating part because we can control those mistakes. Trae hit tough shots, you can’t control that, but the little things, offensive rebounds, turnovers, you can control those things to give yourselves a chance to win the basketball game. So that’s the most frustrating part, but I still have belief.
“We’re a good team, no matter what happens in the regular season, when we get to the playoffs, we’re a good team and I still believe that. When Bron comes back, we’re gonna be an even better team so like I said, we just got to stay the course and try to go into the All-Star break with a nice run and then take that break and come ready into the second half of the season rolling.”
Davis’ claim has been a common refrain for the 2021-22 season as players have constantly been shuffling in and out of the lineup, this time with James missing the past three games with left knee soreness. There is no question that the Lakers have a talented roster, but it feels like time is running out for them to figure it out and make the run that fans are hopeful they have in them.
As for the next steps, the team finally gets to come back home in what should be a winnable game against the Portland Trail Blazers. It remains to be seen whether or not James will suit up, but if he can not go, Davis will need to carry the team in order to get them on track.
Anthony Davis’ play reinforces Lakers’ potential
Even though it was a loss, Davis reminded the NBA why he is such a dominant force with his recent performance against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a glimpse into what the Lakers could look like with a healthy Davis and Frank Vogel noted it reinforced their potential as a team.
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