Thanks to Anthony Davis’ stellar performance and key contributions, the Lakers hit . 500 for the first time this year.
With huge postseason ramifications on the line Friday night, the Lakers rose to the challenge, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-11 in the penultimate game at their current home.
The win not only moves the Lakers into a tie for seventh in the standings, but also gives them a now all-important tiebreaker over the Thunder.
Anthony Davis was amazing, scoring 37 points and grabbing 14 boards, both of which were team highs that night. Dennis Schroeder stepped into the starting lineup after D’Angelo Russell was ruled out before the game, and responded. Schroeder made important assists, defended the point offense and scored 21 points in 37 minutes of play.
Lonnie Walker IV also deserves recognition. Having previously been designated at the end of the bench, Walker was given an opportunity which he made the most of. He finished the night with 20 points, 15 of them in the second quarter alone.
The Lakers were sharp at both ends to start the game. Their defense deflected passes, flew across the field for punts and lunged Shay Gilgos Alexander on drives. On offense, Anthony Davis came out on fire, firing the first four shots from the field. He finished the frame with 15 points on 6-7 shooting.
As a team, the Lakers shot 46.2% from three, and as the quarter came to a close, they led by 16 and scored a season-high 41 points.
Unfortunately, the Lakers defense suffered some major slippage in the second quarter as the Thunder cut a 17-point lead to just eight points at the half.
Then the third quarter showed up for the Lakers. It was the Thunder who would chase after every losing ball, take every positive call and eliminate deficits.
Suddenly, the game became a tough ’90s-era game with sloppy play and hustle and bustle from both teams.
A prime example of this was a wild sequence from Schröder where he dunked and saved the ball, Thunder recovered it, Schröder regained possession and was fouled at the end. Schroeder’s effort didn’t appear on the scoreboard, but it represented the hustle and heart the guard brings to the team each night.
Schroeder carried that energy into a tight fourth quarter, where his scoring proved phenomenal. He scored the Lakers’ first seven points and had a total of 13 points in the last 12 minutes.
After a jump Schroeder and a Jared Vanderbilt free throw, the Lakers regained control by five points in the last minute. Then the Lakers defense did enough to get an important win.
The impact of this game cannot be overstated. Outside of a standings perspective, winning this game when you cut back speaks volumes about a lot of the team’s continued resilience.
Now the Lakers finished their home run with the Sunday vs Chicago Bulls. It is only a game and a half from the sixth seed that was the team’s stated goal after the All-Star break. If LeBron James can also make a comeback soon, perhaps that goal isn’t as far-fetched as it once seemed.
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