Anthony Davis willed the Los Angeles Lakers into a win over the Portland Trail Blazers after a tough battle at Crypto.com Arena on Wednesday.
The Lakers started the game strongly, building a 13-point lead which, however, quickly evaporated in the second quarter. L.A.’s turnovers reignited Portland’s offense, alongside offensive boards thanks to Jusuf Nurkic’s gallant effort on the glass.
But a flying performance from Carmelo Anthony coupled with Davis’ 30 points and 15 rebounds helped the Lakers repel the Trail Blazers’ charge and snatch a win.
“AD had some great sequences of just boarding in traffic,” head coach Frank Vogel said of the 28-year-old All-Star’s performance.
“We were getting beat pretty heavily on the glass and he really battled a big, strong dude in [Jusuf] Nurkic that was hurting us. Came down with some dirty rebounds that helped secure the victory.
Vogel helped Davis steady the ship on the defensive end by deploying Dwight Howard to match up with Nurkic. Howard ended the night with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The big lineup did weaken the Purple and Gold’s offense, but its pros outweighed the cons in the end — especially in the fourth quarter when L.A. outscored Portland 27-19.
“I thought our defensive disposition was better to start the game. Obviously, we had the tough second quarter,” Vogel said. “We tried to just switch the matchup a little bit in terms of eating some of Nurkic’s minutes with Dwight [Howard] to start the quarter, start the second half.
“I thought there was some defensive benefits there, but we obviously struggled to score, which has been the story of our season when we got to play big. Overall, I was proud of how our guys competed and pulled out the W.”
Even though the defensive reinforcements worked out and the Purple and Gold held their opponents below 100 points for just the seventh time this season, Vogel recognized the Lakers’ defense still has some flaws that need to be addressed.
“I think the numbers looked good, but to me, there’s still a lot of areas where we can be better and we need to be better,” he said.
“But there’s always some carryover. Every time we touch the court for some practice time, there’s always some carryover into the game and we saw that tonight.”
Davis felt fatigue in win over Trail Blazers
Vogel commended Davis for powering through the night to seal the win over Portland — particularly as the forward’s stamina hasn’t yet returned back to normal following his injury rehab.
“It was all mental tonight because he didn’t have the legs,” Vogel said. “He had a couple possessions where I didn’t know if he was going to get over halfcourt and a couple possessions where he was late to rotations like we saw down the stretch in Atlanta. I’m worried about him playing all four quarters and having his legs under him and they’re not there yet.
“So tonight was definitely about mental toughness in the face of fatigue. Finding a way to find that energy, find that focus, and make enough plays and make enough shots, quite frankly.
“When you don’t have legs and to still make tough shots is tough to do, so hell of a game by Anthony.”
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