Things got off to about as awful of a start as they could have for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. But once the team flipped the switch and Anthony Davis reminded the league just how good he is, the rest was academic.
Davis was in midseason form, finishing with 35 points, six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals as the Lakers completed a perfect preseason with a 114-113 win over the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half, but turned things around with a dominant defensive effort.
After giving up 69 points in the first half, the Lakers held Phoenix to just 44 after halftime. The third quarter was the turning point as they outscored the Suns 35-23, led by 19 points from Davis who shot 11-of-16 from the field and 6-for-7 from deep.
The performance of LeBron James unfortunately wasn’t nearly as pretty as that of Davis as he mixed some positives and negatives. James finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and knocked down 3-of-4 from deep.
But that was counteracted by his inability to take care of the ball as he finished with eight turnovers. Additionally, James’ free throw woes returned as he hit just 5-of-10 attempts.
Talen Horton-Tucker continued his outstanding play even as a reserve, finishing with 12 points and two assists in showing that he doesn’t need a ton of minutes to impact the game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also showed he still has his shooting stroke from the bubble with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
The Lakers continued to show off an improved 3-point stroke as a team, hitting 16-of-30 from long range. They also forced 24 turnovers, allowing them to get in transition where they are most dangerous.
In their final dress rehearsal before the regular season starts, both James and Davis played into the third quarter before checking out. James left in the middle of the third while Davis played the entire quarter, capping an unreal stretch with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel stuck with a normal 10-man rotation for most of the game — albeit with Dennis Schroder out due to a sprained ankle — before playing the reserves down the stretch.
That saw the Lakers debut for Alfonzo McKinnie, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Next up for the Lakers
With the preseason done, the Lakers will begin their title defense by facing off with the rival L.A. Clippers.
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