With about three minutes remaining in the first half of the Los Angeles Lakers win over the Utah Jazz, Anthony Davis suffered a gruesome ankle injury that would keep him out for the rest of the game. At the time of his injury, the Lakers trailed by five but saw that deficit balloon to as much as 14.
Without Davis in the fourth quarter, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook took over the game, scoring at will and setting up teammates to succeed. This allowed L.A. to storm back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Jazz in one of the best wins of the Lakers season.
Following the game, the focus shifted back onto the health of Davis, who could be out for some time with an ankle sprain of undisclosed severity. Westbrook balanced his praise of the Lakers with concern for Davis when discussing the win.
“It’s a good combo of both but we know, it’s been like this all year for us unfortunately,” Westbrook said of injuries.
“We know that the most important part is making sure AD is healthy and his spirits are right and hopefully it’s not that bad and he’ll be back as soon as he’s ready. But until then, we got to hold it down, guys got to step up and be ready to play like tonight guys did it in the spur of the moment and it was good for us.”
Westbrook praised the way the Lakers fought back despite losing someone as game-changing as Davis. “It just shows resiliency. You got a group of guys that have all been through so many different things in their careers and when a talent like AD goes down, it’s difficult to be able to overcome right away. But our group in the locker room stuck with it, stuck together and fought through that adversity and found a way to come out with a win.”
Davis is expected to be re-evaluated after the All-Star Break, however, the assumption is he will miss more time than that, meaning the Lakers will need to muster the same energy from this fourth quarter for multiple games.
When the Lakers return from the break, they’ll face five primetime games against relatively strong Western Conference opponents. A serviceable effort in those games should put them back in the Western Conference playoff mix with the season winding down.
Reaves happy Lakers have faith in him
One of the heroes of Wednesday night besides Westbrook and James was undrafted rookie Austin Reaves. Reaves played strong minutes throughout the game and was instrumental in the team’s comeback, including the dagger three to put the game away in the final minute.
Reaves spoke about how it feels having the trust of his veteran teammates.
“It means a lot. I’m a rookie, undrafted, and for those guys to have the faith in me to step up and make big shots it’s special,” Reaves said. “It really just pushes me to believe in myself a lot more. Those guys are some of the greatest players to ever play. For them to have the trust in me, like I said, it’s special. It can’t go unnoticed.”
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