The Los Angeles Lakers fell 116-102 to the Cleveland Cavaliers after Anthony Davis was struck with an illness and had to leave the game in the first quarter.
Davis has been the main architect of L.A.’s great run in the past couple of weeks. Entering the Tuesday matchup with the Cavaliers, the 29-year-old Lakers forward averaged 35.3 points, 15.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.9 blocks over the previous nine games.
But eight minutes into the clash, Davis left the court and headed straight to the locker room as the flu-like symptoms he had felt earlier in the day intensified, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham told Spectrum SportsNet:
“Yeah, it progressively got worse. His temperature went over 100 — I believe it was 101 and some change. He said he was gonna try to give it a go, which he did. But just felt too weak, you know, just kind of drained, dehydrated a little bit. But you know, it’s that time of the season in terms of winter time and cold weather change, and changing the climate coming from L.A. and going to these different places. We dealt with it earlier in the year and he experienced it today. Again, it set in earlier today and it sort of worsened as the day went on.”
The Lakers kept the score close until late in the fourth quarter, wiping out Cleveland’s deficit three times along the way. But eventually, they couldn’t keep up with the young Cavaliers offense.
Ham praised L.A.’s effort despite the disappointing result:
“We just, you know, massaged the rotation a little bit. Obviously, AD tried to give it his best but couldn’t sustain it and so, with him going out just really, just trying to throw some different lineups out there. They’re really wide-ranging, long, athletic ball club and so just trying to get some speed out there, you know, combat their size with a little bit of speed. My hat’s off to our guys, man. They competed their hearts out. That’s a huge blow obviously, you mentioned the way [Davis] has been playing here of late. But they stayed the course and got through the first half pretty good, and made it competitive in the third quarter. And then the bottom just sort of fell out, had some untimely turnovers. It’s tough because they really are as good as advertised. They’re a deep ballclub and with a closer like Donovan Mitchell — a really good playmaker, action-creator — and Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen, you have to really keep them off the glass. They have good hands, they can finish in the paint. And so it was a tough challenge, but our guys competed. Disappointed, but I’m not upset. Our guys really competed.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 43 points in addition to his six rebounds, five assists, and four steals, ending with a stat line unseen in Cleveland since LeBron James’ first stint with the team.
James says ‘It’s always good to go back’ in Cleveland
James always gets extra motivated ahead of his return to Cleveland as evidenced by his 38-point triple-double last season. Before the Tuesday clash with the Cavaliers, the four-time NBA champion said he enjoys coming back to his old stomping ground.
“It’s always good to go back, we have a lot of history, it’s very close to my hometown, and a lot of my friends and family will be at the game so it’s always good to be able to still play in front of them,” he said.
“They’ve seen me from the first time I ever picked up a basketball until now, so it’s special in its own right.”
James ended up with 21 points and 17 rebounds — the most boards he has registered in a game since 2016-17.
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