Lakers News: Jaxson Hayes Speaks On Big Offensive Night Against Timberwolves In Anthony Davis’ Absence
Jaxson Hayes, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With LeBron James already sitting out due to illness, it was a major blow for the Los Angeles Lakers to lose Anthony Davis to an eye injury in the first quarter of Sunday night’s contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though credit must be given to Jaxson Hayes, who stepped up in Davis’ absence.

Hayes would finish the game with a season-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five steals as he did everything he could, but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers fell by 10 to the Timberwolves. As for what led to his offensive explosion, Hayes credited D’Angelo Russell for setting him up for easy buckets.

“They were just in a drop,” Hayes said about the Minnesota defense. “And I was making sure I set my screens and got hits on them so DLo could come off a little bit open, which made the bigs step up on a majority of those ones and then when Rudy stepped up, I just had a free lane at the rim. So they just made me look good.”

Russell struggled shooting the ball, but he was undoubtedly in his playmaking bag, finishing with 11 assists to just one turnover. Filling in for a player of Davis’ caliber is no easy task, especially with everything he does for the Lakers. But for Hayes, his focus isn’t necessarily something specific offensively or defensively, but rather staying on the court period.

“The main thing for me is just staying out of foul trouble because I knew AD wasn’t coming back for the game,” Hayes added. “Because if I got into foul trouble then we wouldn’t have much after, so that was just the biggest thing for me. Just keep my hands up and just try to give the guys as much energy as I can because I knew I had big shoes to fill.”

With Christian Wood out due to injury, the only other big the Lakers had available is two-way center Colin Castleton and he just isn’t ready to contribute at this level yet. Even the potential to go small was out the window for the Lakers due to LeBron being out as well.

The rest of the Lakers fought valiantly to stick around with one of the top teams in the West, but Hayes admitted it’s just hard without LeBron and Davis. “For every team, when your best two players don’t play, that definitely hurts a little bit.

“They’re the main guys that generate most of our shots in normal games when we have everyone playing, so I definitely wouldn’t say it was a downer, but it definitely hurts obviously not having them out there.”

With every game meaning so much in terms of playoff positioning, this was not a night for the Lakers to miss both their stars. But it was great to see Hayes step up and give the team a chance by putting together his best game in a Lakers uniform.

Darvin Ham: ‘Sky is the limit’ for Lakers center Jaxson Hayes

Jaxson Hayes’ performance turned some heads and gave a little glimpse of what the young big man is capable of. And Lakers head coach Darvin Ham believes his ceiling is unlimited.

“He’s a young player, someone that we’re extremely excited about, just his ceiling,” Ham said. “The sky is the limit for that kid. His energy, his attitude, his competitive spirit, it’s great and it’s on display as he’s gotten better game by game as the season has worn on.”

Ham would also credit Hayes for improving his ability to defend without fouling while maintaining the energy and pace the team needs from him.

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