Anthony Davis, Lakers close out Pistons for 2nd straight win – Daily Bulletin
LOS ANGELES — It’s taken a lot longer than anyone would like, and the Lakers have yet to show it against one of the NBA’s true contenders.
But after 14 games, they could find their way to close out games when it matters most.
It was a bit of hope to keep after the Lakers (4-10) won their second straight game Friday night, 128-121, against the Detroit Pistons (3-14). Again, Anthony Davis played a starring role, scoring 38 points and adding 16 rebounds and four blocked shots in his first straight 30-point game since February.
But for one of the few times so far this season, the Lakers’ experience seemed to give them an edge in the clutch. Prior to beating Detroit, they were just 1-5 in games within five points with five minutes remaining (the only win after a buzzer-beater forcing OT). But against the Pistons, they actually pulled away, scoring from the field or the free throw line on eight straight possessions with 5:05 left.
“We’re getting organized,” Davis said. “We get off the floor and go into our sets and not just with a random attack. So when we go down and get ready and get the game we want, we usually get something good.
Davis played a pivotal role in that attack, scoring 12 of his points in the final five minutes. The best the Pistons could do to slow down the All-Star big man was a foul on him, and Davis was 18 of 21 from the line, accounting for more than half of the Lakers’ free throws.
Lonnie Walker IV added 17 points, Austin Reaves scored 16 points and Russell Westbrook had 10 points and 12 assists.
Of these three, Walker was arguably the most crucial. For the second game in a row, he was the leading ball handler in the crucial fourth quarter, even in lineouts with Westbrook on the ground. But he passed the credit to his teammate, who has recently stepped up his goalscoring output.
“AD makes it work,” Walker said. “He makes the game easy. I think anyone who’s in a pick-and-roll with Anthony Davis knows that’s hard to keep. He consumes so much on the pitch.
With four days of rest between games, the Lakers expected to arrive with rested legs. But for a quarter and a half, they looked more like they were still sleeping. While the Lakers were without LeBron James for the third consecutive gamethe Pistons played without Cade Cunningham, their primary point guard winger.
On defense, the Lakers were slow to turn and challenge the drive, cutting off the Pistons. Detroit scored 16 of its 37 first-quarter points in the paint and beat the Lakers on the fast break for four field goals. While the Lakers, especially Davis, got to the line 16 times in the period, they gave away their advantage with five turnovers against Detroit’s.
At a particularly low point, the Lakers found themselves trailing the Pistons by 14 points.
But the visitors’ youthful exuberance only carried them so far, and by the end of the first half, the Lakers had begun to find their groove. Forwards from the bench have been gaining momentum with pick-and-roll attacks, including Thomas Bryant who hit four of his first six shots while making his season debut after thumb surgery in October. Wenyen Gabriel, one of the Lakers’ top end-to-end hustlers, added a few hoops to the rim.
The Lakers ended up compiling a 31-13 run to end the first half in just over eight minutes, capped off by two standout moments from Walker: a poster dunk on Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey and a corner kick. at 3 dots. to give the Lakers a 68-64 halftime lead.
The game also marked the season debut of veteran guard Dennis Schröder, who had a slightly rougher curve after a month off from his own thumb surgery, scoring two points on a 1-for-5 shot.
Alec Burks scored 23 points and Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 for the Pistons, who have lost six straight.
While Ham and his players have said keeping Davis warm in attack will be essential even when James returns, Davis was less focused on his individual prowess than on the end result.
“I could get zero points if we win,” he said. “We have to get wins. The rest will start to take care of themselves. So we can’t get comfortable. We’ve been in this situation before: lose five, win two, lose five, win two. So we need to build up a winning streak to get back into this thing, but we need to take it one game at a time.