It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the Lakers were able to blow things open with a stellar third quarter, outscoring the Warriors 40-17.
“We came out with effort we didn’t have in the first half. We got stops, got out and ran and were able to build a lead,” Lakers star forward Anthony Davis told reporters after the game, per Spectrum SportsNet. “There’s still a lot that we can get better at and that’s a scary thing for teams and good thing for us that we’re not playing our best at all times and we’re still able to get wins.”
Davis finished with 23 points and six rebounds in just 25 minutes played. It was his lowest minutes total in a game since mid-January.
James got the night off with a sore groin, although it’s not expected to be serious.
“He’s just dealing with some soreness, and we’re still two days away from (our next game),” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said in his postgame press conference, per Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll. “So we’ll see what he feels like on Saturday morning.”
Lakers Need to Improve With LeBron James Off the Court
As Davis points out, it’s not easy to fill the void when James is off the floor considering he provides 25.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and a league-leading 10.6 assists per game.
“Everyone played great. Came in and tried to fill the shoes of a guy who comes in and does it all. Bron, when he’s out, he’s taking away a lot of things that we do. So it’s on all of us to make sure we try to fill those voids and I think we did that tonight,” Davis said.
Davis saw James’ third missed game of the season as an opportunity for the roster to improve as a whole at playing without The King on the floor.
“We got to get better at that,” Davis said. “Usually when (James is) playing and he comes off the floor we kind of take a dip in all aspects of the game. Just the way, the same way we played tonight without him, we got to play like that when he’s playing but when he’s not on the floor.
“It’s good for guys to kind of get those reps. And I think when he comes back, that we got to make sure we keep the same pace, same intensity when he’s not on the floor.”
Anthony Davis: Scary Thought That Lakers Can Still Improve
The Lakers are Western Conference leading 45-12 and have a comfy 5.5 game lead over second place Denver. A key ingredient in the Lakers success has been the steady improvement of role players through the season.
Lakers fan-favorite Alex Caruso held down the backup point guard spot with Rajon Rondo sliding into the starting lineup, collecting eight points and eight assists to go with a plus-20 rating. He drew M-V-P chants late in the game in the Warriors’ arena.
“It was loud, it wasn’t just like a section, it was a lot of people,” Lakers center Javale McGee said, per Kyle Goon. “But I feel like that’s just the power of a winning Lake Show team.”