For the first time in over a month, the Los Angeles Lakers had their entire superstar trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook on the court on Tuesday night and it ended with a win over the Brooklyn Nets on the road, 106-96.
Davis played just 25 minutes, finishing with eight points and four blocks on the night, but his impact on both ends of the court was apparent. LeBron led the way with 33 points, seven rebounds, and three steals while Westbrook added 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists, But the most important thing for the Lakers as a whole was Davis being back on the floor.
After the win, Westbrook made it clear that Davis’ impact was felt on both sides of the floor.
“Just getting his rhythm back,” Westbrook said of Davis’ return. “He was on a minutes restriction tonight, but it’s definitely different with his presence out there, especially on the defensive end. His offense will come, part of that is just us playing and getting into a better rhythm, but it was good to see him back out on the floor.”
It has been extremely difficult to judge the Lakers this season as injuries have destroyed them all season long. The trio of Davis, James, and Westbrook simply haven’t had enough time to build the chemistry and cohesion necessary to succeed.
In fact, the three have yet to play more than three consecutive games together, but Westbrook is hopeful that this will change and they can build that chemistry moving forward.
“It really don’t matter at this point what other people may think of our team or judge us, it really doesn’t matter. Ultimately what matters is us internally trying to figure it out having myself, Bron and AD on the floor at the same time for a consistent amount of games. So hopefully we can be able to string together some games together and create a rhythm as we move into the second half of the season.”
But Davis’ return also marks a change to Frank Vogel’s rotation as a whole. This is the closest the Lakers have been to being completely healthy all season, which means the coaching staff will again need to experiment with different lineups and rotations to see what works best and Westbrook and the Lakers understand that.
“I think for us, we know what our capabilities are. But honestly, we still have to figure out spacing on the floor, what sets to call, kind of our rotations, figuring out what that looks like, even tonight was different because AD was on a minutes restriction. So it kind of changes knowing who you’re gonna be on the floor with, and all of that takes a part of kind of how you play, at least for me, how I orchestrate the game from my position, being able to kind of see what lineups will be on the floor and which ones are most effective.
“So we understand that internally, that’s why we just keep our head down and keep moving forward making sure we can try to figure it out and keep striving towards doing that.”
Against the Nets, it was Avery Bradley and Stanley Johnson in the starting lineup with LeBron, Westbrook, and Davis. Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, Carmelo Anthony, and Austin Reaves were the reserves used, but there will surely be nights where Dwight Howard gets minutes as well.
There is no doubt Vogel will use the coming weeks to truly lock down the rotation needed moving forward as the Lakers finally have a chance to build something now that Davis is back.
Westbrook says Anthony Davis ‘definitely’ gives Lakers a boost
Westbrook’s comments echoed what he spoke on as Davis was set to return as he made it clear that Davis being back would give the Lakers a boost.
“I think whenever you get a player like AD back, it definitely changes your team. Not just on the offensive side, but on the defensive side,” Westbrook said.
“He’s able to do things that people can’t do at his size and definitely gives a team a boost getting a chance to see everybody out on the floor, at least hopefully as we move forward towards the tail end of the season.”
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