The Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday as an injury sidelined LeBron James again this season — just a game after Anthony Davis returned from a lengthy spell away.
Davis played like his good, old self, putting up 31 points and 12 rebounds in the 105-87 loss. The 28-year-old All-Star’s midrange jumper again seemed like the lethal weapon he used to terrorize L.A.’s rivals with two years ago.
The forward shot 14-for-21 overall (66.7%), but the rest of the team went 22-for-67 (32.8%) from the field, leading to the Lakers’ second-fewest point total of the season.
“It was good to see him get in a rhythm, competed, and made some terrific plays on Embiid,” head coach Frank Vogel said of Davis’ performance.
“We were trying to bring double teams and give him as much support as he could so we could keep him out of foul trouble and that part of it worked. We didn’t cover the backside threes well enough, but Anthony played a hell of a game on both sides of the ball.”
Although Vogel admitted it was “difficult” to see James watch the game from the sidelines while Davis was putting on a show, Vogel didn’t want to use the four-time NBA champion’s absence as an excuse for L.A.’s 25th loss of the season.
“Yeah, it’s difficult, but this is what every team in the league goes through so no one is feeling sorry for themselves. We have to play better than we played tonight, and that’s the mindset for tomorrow.”
Instead, Vogel thinks Davis’ performance against the 76ers justifies his — and the team’s —optimism regarding the Purple and Gold’s potential.
“There’s reasons why we keep saying we’re so optimistic about what we can do this year,” the head coach said. “We just haven’t seen it all together at once, but belief in our group is very strong. There’s still a lot of ways we have to improve, but seeing Anthony play that way reinforces our belief.”
Vogel said the Lakers didn’t move the ball well and failed to match up the 76ers’ intensity in the paint, explaining the reasons behind L.A.’s loss on Thursday.
“We have to put pressure on the paint with our movement and I thought there was too much of guys trying to create it on their own,” he said.
“And then when we did, we shot poorly at the rim, we shot poorly on open threes and you need everything you can get against a team like Philly. But we just didn’t move the ball well enough offensively.”
Anthony tried to ‘stay aggressive’ to ‘get back to his old self’
After the game, Anthony explained he purposefully played with extra aggression against the 76ers to get his rhythm back on the offensive end.
“Just staying aggressive,” Davis said of his focus. “Even in the Brooklyn game, I spoke to guys after the game and I told them that I liked all my shots, they were just in and out, just wanted to have some carry-over from a couple nights ago and they went in tonight.
“Trying to keep that rhythm and get back to my old self.”
Davis scored just eight points in the victory over the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, his first game after the 17-game break from the court.
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