These are different times for Los Angeles Lakers. After huge deals during the trade deadline, the Lakers have enjoyed some new life. Facing a shorthanded Golden State Warriors team, it may have been a game where the Lakers struggled to grab control and crumbled to a loss. Instead, L.A. won in a comfortable fashion.
Multiple Lakers contributed to the win with seven players in double figures. LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for just 26 points, the same amount as newcomer Malik Beasley scored himself.
It was a complete effort, one that saw LeBron exit early in the 4th quarter and Davis never check in during the final 12 minutes. As James subbed out, he and Davis had an exchange that went viral on Twitter, via Spence_DFS:
Here’s the clip https://t.co/vDiqBBLtRE pic.twitter.com/QdkasPnMeZ
— Spence (@Spence_DFS) February 24, 2023
It’s a moment that represents a sigh of relief for both stars. So much of this season has hung on the production of Davis and James and heavy minutes by both.
At age 38, LeBron was playing close to 36 minutes a game before the All-Star break, a figure that worried some within the organization. Davis’ two-way play made it almost impossible to keep him off the floor in key moments. Lack of depth forced the majority of the offense to go through both stars, while also demanding them to play strong defense.
But, everything seemed to change after the trade deadline. Davis acknowledged there’s a different feel and energy to the team since then.
“Yeah, I mean, I think we just know where we are. We don’t have time to be upset or fight ourself within. We got to be able to go out and win basketball games,” Davis said. “That’s all we want to do is go out and have fun, us having fun playing the right way, playing defense, making the right plays offensively leads to victories. When you’re winning basketball games, it’s always fun and you can enjoy it. We just want to keep stringing wins together and get back in the race.”
With 22 games remaining and the Lakers 1.5 games out of the final Play-In Game spot, each matchup is important. But even more important is the assurance that the Lakers’ biggest stars are healthy and don’t burn out during the stretch. The new faces make it more likely that will be the case.
Davis & James enjoying not having to carry heavy workload
Thursday night’s convincing victory over the Warriors meant extended rest for Davis and James. LeBron played his lowest minutes in a full game since Feb. 28, 2021 while Davis tied his season-low in minutes with 26.
Davis emphasized how important it is for the two to not carry as heavy a load.
“It’s very huge,” Davis said. “Especially as we’re getting closer and closer down the stretch, our minutes are going to increase so if we can come out and do what we’re supposed to do early, put teams away and give ourselves a chance to rest even more and other starters as well, and then also gives a chance for our other guys like Wenyen and Lonnie, D. Reed to go out and get a rhythm as well because you never know when you need those guys too. So it’s always good to be able to sit out in the fourth quarter with a convincing lead.”
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