Anthony Davis scores 38 as LeBron-less Lakers overcome mistakes to beat Pistons

Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons center Nerlins Noel.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons center Nerlins Noel during the first quarter of the Lakers’ 128-121 win Friday at Arena. Davis finished with 38 points and 16 rebounds.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Detroit coach Dwane Casey smiled as soon he heard a reporter mention Bojan Bogdanovic’s name.

It’s one, of course, that was spoken plenty here in Los Angeles and around the NBA this summer regarding the Lakers. It wasn’t much of a secret that the veteran wing was on the Lakers’ wish list as they considered possible trades for Russell Westbrook this offseason.

The Pistons, though, surprised many around the league (and some in the Lakers’ front office) by snatching Bogdanovic in a trade with the Utah Jazz.


So when Casey heard his name uttered before Friday’s game, he had to interrupt.

“Can’t have him,” he quickly said with a laugh.

Of course, Bogdanovic opened the game by making his first four shots.

The Lakers had an open discussion during a film session Saturday, then went out Sunday and ended their losing streak.

Nov. 16, 2022

If pregame was a reminder of what this roster could’ve been this season, the game itself made it clear that any of the Lakers’ construction problems weren’t going to be completely ironed out with a handful of days off.

Still, the Lakers showed they were capable of making it work when they weren’t at their best — humming offensively (mostly) and fighting defensively (sort of) through a 128-121 win against Detroit at Arena.

And with the wins coming infrequently, the “how” shouldn’t be much of a concern.

Anthony Davis scored 38 and grabbed 16 rebounds, his first stretch with consecutive 30-point games since last February. Russell Westbrook had 12 assists and, along with Davis, was one of six Lakers with at least 10 points.

“He’s been a monster,” Austin Reaves said of Davis.

Lakers guard Patrick Beverley, left, drives past Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey in the first quarter Friday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Alec Burks led Detroit with 23, and Bogdanovic scored 20.

Playing for the first time since they beat the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, the Lakers and coach Darvin Ham spoke frequently about using the time off to get back to defending the way they did in the first few weeks of the season.

For a quarter, they responded poorly, giving up 37 points to the Pistons in the first quarter — offense fueled by the Lakers’ poor decision-making and lapses in intensity.

“I’ll go back to it again, [it’s] the self-inflicted mistakes,” Ham said before the game. “... Addressing those things is our top priority. It’s one thing to prepare for different teams, but you have to make sure, you have to do your own wellness check.”


While the defense improved in the second quarter, similar mistakes returned early in the second half, highlighting the Lakers’ consistency issues. But with the offense continuing to play with rhythm, it was good enough.

“More intensity, more energy, more effort,” Davis said of what changed defensively after the first.

Still the Lakers didn’t pass the wellness check totally — in more ways than one.

The Lakers still were without LeBron James, his groin injury not progressing enough Friday to get him back on the court. James made his way to the bench shortly after the start of the first quarter, the team officially ruling him out at the last moment.

It’s the third straight game James has sat out because of a strained adductor injury in his left leg. James was a participant in the noncontact portions of practice Thursday and was listed as questionable.

Juan Toscano-Anderson (back) and rookie Max Christie (health and safety protocols) were also unavailable.

The Lakers did get back Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant, both of whom sat out the Lakers’ first 13 games this season after having thumb surgeries in the preseason.


Bryant, in particular, made an impact in the first half, playing with physicality and urgency as he had eight quick first-half points.

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Nov. 14, 2022