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‘AD is AD. One of one.’ Anthony Davis leads Lakers past Warriors in critical win

Lakers forward Anthony Davis lofts a shot over Warriors forward Kevon Looney.
(Adam Pantozzi / NBAE via Getty Images)
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It looked so easy, Anthony Davis combining size and skill to loft hook shots and using force to slam home rebounds early Sunday afternoon against the Golden State Warriors.

He couldn’t be stopped, the Lakers building a 20-point lead in a six-minute chunk of the first quarter.

Yet with the Lakers, nothing has been easy, a season in which LeBron James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, is forced to wheel around on a scooter in the back hallways of Crypto.com Arena and when D’Angelo Russell, their big trade deadline acquisition, has sat out more games for the Lakers then he has played.

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That lead they built in minutes? The Lakers spent the next two hours clinging to it against a returning Stephen Curry and the defending-champion Warriors.

With 53 seconds left and the shot clock set to expire, Davis stared down Draymond Green and attacked one of the NBA’s best defenders, floating a four-footer softly off the rim and through the net.

The bucket sealed a 113-105 win, a precious step toward the playoffs while the Lakers try to get healthy.

Darvin Ham was not pleased with what he saw in a 110-102 loss to the Timberwolves, saying the Lakers must do more if they want to make the playoffs.

March 4, 2023

“AD is AD. One of one,” Dennis Schroder said of Davis. “… When he’s in attack mode, it’s always going to be tough to stop him. I mean, Draymond, of course, he’s one of the best defenders in the league, but AD is a top-five player in the world.

“So, he made a hell of a play there. We needed that bucket.”

It was the kind of play to cap the kind of effort — 39 points, eight rebounds and six assists — the Lakers have to get from their best player down the stretch of the season.

The Lakers rebounded from a loss against Minnesota on Friday with a strong performance against the Warriors because of the tone Davis set early.

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The Lakers led 32-12 in the first quarter, Davis quickly scoring 15.

“They shoot the ball too well,” Davis said of Golden State, which had a five-game winning streak ended. “Not just them, but a 20-point lead in this league is nothing anymore — it doesn’t hold value.”

It was even more deceiving Sunday with Curry playing for the first time in a month (11 games) after a left leg injury. Along with Klay Thompson, the two guards combined to make nine three-pointers with all but one coming after the Lakers built their 20-point lead.

Yet despite multiple pushes and Golden State forging ties in the third and fourth quarters, the Lakers never let the Warriors push ahead.

“They’re defending champions; they’re gonna make a run, make plays, make shots,” Davis said. “Between Steph, Klay and Jordan Poole, they’re elite shooters. I think we locked in defensively. They got away a couple times, but we just continued to compete. Even when they made their runs, we made a run of our own and we were able to close the game out.”

Schroder and Austin Reaves teamed up to chase after Curry, and though he scored 27, Curry needed 20 shots. Nineteen of those points came in the fourth after Reaves kicked the quarter off by blocking one of Curry’s layups.

He drilled a near-impossible three on the next possession.

“Honestly, I don’t know how he’s in such good shape with not playing for however long he [missed]. Never looks like he’s tired,” Reaves said. “… I had a nice block on him and then I think he came off a pin down and hit a three. Got in the paint for floater or something. Had like seven straight.

“If I could give the block away for him not to score, I would’ve.”

Anthony Davis finishes with 38 points, but no LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell proves costly in the Lakers’ 110-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

March 3, 2023

Blocking that shot might’ve been one of the only mistakes Reaves made Sunday, as he led the Lakers with 16 points and eight assists off the bench. His three-pointer before the end of the third quarter gave the Lakers a nudge into the fourth and helped extinguish one of the Warriors’ runs.

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“[It’s] the fearlessness he’s had all season,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of Reaves. “Again, we have the utmost confidence in Austin and what he brings to the table. He was huge. He had a segment there where he was making every play, scoring, knocking down shots.”

Six Lakers finished in double figures. They play Memphis, who won’t have Ja Morant, at home on Tuesday. Russell is considered day to day after sitting out his fifth straight game because of an ankle injury.

If the Lakers have to play without him against the Grizzlies, they can take comfort in the way Davis is meeting the moment as the team’s primary option.

“I’ve been doing it my whole career, even in New Orleans, doing whatever the team needs,” Davis said. “Obviously with Bron out, the team’s gonna rely on me more to make plays for myself, for others. Other guys are stepping up, playing well, making shots, defending. So it’s a team effort. I think we did a good job on both ends of the floor tonight. Like I said, it’s a team [the Warriors] that’s seen every defensive coverage, seen a lot of shots go in over the years, been together for a while, championship experience.

“So it’s a big win for us.”

At this stage, they all are.

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