The Los Angeles Lakers nearly completed another comeback victory on Thursday, this time against the L.A. Clippers. After trailing by as many as 17 points — and 12 heading into the fourth quarter — a combination of Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Trevor Ariza, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves helped to bring them back.
Carmelo Anthony likely would have been a part of this final group instead of Ariza, having scored seven points in his first 11 minutes. But a hamstring injury sidelined him for the remainder of the game, putting Ariza in a spot to affect the game.
While the Lakers wound up losing by one point in the final seconds, Davis was happy with the team’s fight in the fourth quarter. He was especially happy with Ariza, who had been rushed out of the rotation after struggling upon returning from an ankle injury.
“Hell of a job by [Trevor Ariza] to come in after Melo goes out and he came in and played big minutes, hit some tough shots, great defensive stops,” Davis said.
Davis admitted that losing Anthony was tough, saying the Lakers are hopeful his injury is minor. “It was a tough moment, obviously he’s one of our better shooters and gives us spacing,” Davis said of Anthony. “But like I said, Trevor came in and played a hell of a game.
“Came in, made some shots, made some stops defensively, he filled those shoes for Melo. We don’t know the severity of Melo’s injury but TA is always ready and he was able to come in and help us. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but next man up mentality.”
The effort in the fourth quarter showed what the Lakers can do at their best. But their best has simply not come around often enough. The loss to the Clippers puts them three games below .500 and digs a deeper hole for the Lakers to climb if they want to get out of the play-in tournament.
Obviously, the health of Anthony — and superstar LeBron James — will be monitored by the day. But Davis, Westbrook, and the rest of the healthy Lakers have to find a way to secure some wins in their absence.
Hopefully, this game can also signal a turning point for Ariza. Having a healthy and impactful wing defender in the lineup allows Frank Vogel to experiment with a number of different looks in hopes of finding something that sticks.
Davis: ‘Tough’ to lose in close fashion
Outside of his praise for Ariza, Davis appeared defeated after scoring 30 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in the loss to the Clippers. He kept it simple when describing his feelings on the outcome. “We did a good job in the fourth, only gave up 17 points in the fourth,” Davis said.
“We had some tough misses, gave them a lot of threes in the third quarter and went on a run and then we fought back. They made a tough shot. Our guys fought back down I think 17 or something like that, a big lead, we just kept fighting. Just tough to lose like that though.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!