Led by LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers put together one of their most spirited wins of the season against the Utah Jazz. Trailing by as many as 14 points and losing Anthony Davis to injury, L.A. was able to fight back and collect a desperately needed win before the All-Star Break.
L.A. Rams superstar Aaron Donald — as well as star receiver Robert Woods — were in attendance courtside at the Lakers’ comeback win. And it’s not out of the realm of reality to say that their presence played a big role in energizing the Crypto.com Arena crowd and the Lakers themselves.
James — who finished the night with 33 points and 14 in the fourth quarter — gave credit to Donald for inspiring him and the Lakers, also speaking to the greatness of the NFL star who just won his first Super Bowl.
“He’s the greatest defensive player I’ve ever seen play the sport. I say him and Lawrence Taylor, but I didn’t get an opportunity to see Lawrence Taylor play. So [Donald] is the greatest defensive player I’ve ever seen,” James said. “Before I started watching Aaron, I always thought it was Ed Reed or Polamalu, but Aaron Donald is the greatest I’ve ever seen on that side of the ball.
“But obviously just being here and watching him over the last few years and just seeing how he’s able to dominate a game, not only with one guy on him, but two guys, three guys, you got a running back chipping you sometimes, and he’s still able to get to the quarterback, get to the running back. And obviously in the Super Bowl, those last two plays were spectacular that he made, stopping the third down by getting the tackle on the guy and then the fourth-and-one being able to get into the backfield and make Burrow throw an ill-advised pass.
“But for him to come here, obviously he had the parade and that looked amazing, it looked like those guys had a great time, but for him to just take time out of his day to come here and watch us play, I just tried to take inspiration from what he was able to accomplish the last few days.”
The Rams star was not only able to have a Super Bowl parade, but he also got to watch perhaps the most impressive win of the Lakers season, even if it did come at the cost of an injured Davis.
Having Super Bowl champions in the building absolutely livened the spirits of the fanbase when the team needed it most. After trailing 92-80 with 6:35 to go in the fourth quarter, the Lakers went on a 26-9 run to end the game, including clutch free throws from Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers having this type of victory ahead of the All-Star Break could be huge for confidence and momentum moving forward, and Donald and Woods can easily claim they played a part in that.
James sickened by Davis injury
It remains unclear how long Davis’ absence will be after suffering a gruesome sprained ankle. But James had strong words for the injury regardless.
“Obviously I’m sickened to see AD go down in that fashion,” James said after the game. “I hope he’s fine. I mean, obviously I know he’s not great, but obviously his health is most important for him individually and for our ball club. I’ve seen it too many times obviously, so I wish him the best and there’s still a game that needed to be played at the end of the day. I set out to make plays to try to help us win – I was able to do that.”
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