The Los Angeles Lakers got all of their reinforcements back in the final weekend of the regular season and the highlights were everywhere. In the process, they looked every bit the championship favorite many believe they can be at full strength.
LeBron James was huge down the stretch and finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists while Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 28 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two steals as the Lakers left Indiana with a 122-115 victory over the Pacers. The victory improved the Lakers record to 41-30 and are now a win and Portland Trail Blazers loss to the Denver Nuggets away from escaping the Play-In Tournament.
Early on it was Davis dominating the game as he had 17 first-quarter points and maintained his recent aggression, getting to the free-throw line 10 times and hitting nine of them. But as the Lakers’ double-digit lead evaporated in the fourth quarter, it was James stepping up with seven late points to ensure the victory.
Before then, however, it was highlight after highlight for the Lakers, who looked nothing like a team that had barely played together before the game. An alley-oop from Dennis Schroder to LeBron James in the first quarter was the most spectacular, but connections between Davis, James and Andre Drummond were on display all game as well.
Schroder also made his return after two weeks away due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols and was solid with 14 points and four assists. The Lakers also got 11 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks from Drummond as well as 13 points and two steals from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who did much of his damage in the third quarter. Montrezl Harrell added nine points and nine rebounds off the bench and Talen Horton-Tucker finished with 11 points.
Where L.A. shines most was clear as well on this night. The Lakers outrebounded Indiana by eight which includes 11 on the offensive glass. They also had 25 assists on their 41 baskets and turned the ball over only 13 times.
The Lakers shot just under 48% on the night and hit 11 3-pointers in the contest. Perhaps most importantly, they also hit 29-of-36 from the free-throw line, a mark that the team would undoubtedly hope remains consistent during the playoffs.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers will finish out the regular season Sunday night in New Orleans against the Pelicans, though most of their former young players will be inactive. Following that will be the playoffs and potentially the play-in tournament depending on the results of the Nuggets-Blazers game.
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