The Los Angeles Lakers entered Friday night in a must-win situation against the Dallas Mavericks who were right above them in the standings.
Dallas was shorthanded as Luka Doncic remained out due to a thigh injury, leaving Los Angeles with the perfect opportunity to make up ground. However, they were dealt a gut punch when they lost to the Mavericks off a buzzer-beating 3 from Maxi Kleber.
Anthony Davis, who was just a hair late closing out on Kleber, recalled the final possession. “There was seven seconds and he dribbled almost the whole clock out. We were just reading [Kyrie] knowing he was probably gonna take the last shot. He went into the shooting motion and just came down with it, didn’t shoot it. So when he went up, it kind of pulled me in, I was going for the rebound thinking he was shooting it. And he made the pass to Kleber, who made the shot.”
That wasn’t the only play in crunch time where Kleber got the best of Los Angeles as Davis fouled him shooting a 3 on a previous possession. Davis acknowledged that it was poor decision on his part.
“Just tried to contest on the side,” Davis said. “You never really want to jump straight in front of people, but I just jumped so far that I still probably clipped him a little bit. I haven’t looked at it. But I just tried to jump to the side of him. I actually think he shot it a little left honestly, but those were a couple of bad defensively plays by me.”
Not only did Davis foul Kleber, but he also followed it up by splitting a pair of free throws of his own after the latter drilled all three. Had he nailed both, it would’ve given the Lakers a three-point lead in the closing seconds.
“It was tough. Shot it a little right. We would’ve been up three at that point. Still kind of processing everything. But if we were up three, even if he makes the 3, there’s still overtime. It’s a tough loss.”
The star big man has struggled in closing moments of games, but tonight was the most egregious showing to date. While it’s ultimately the team’s loss to bear, Davis came up short in the moments the Lakers needed him and this loss may very well come back to haunt them.
LeBron James not close to returning
LeBron James appears to be making good progress as he rehabs his foot injury and is scheduled to be re-evaluated next week. However, although there’s been no reported setback he is apparently still not close to returning to game action.
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