In the absence of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers take the court. - footballivenews
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In the absence of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers take the court.



On Sunday night at Arena, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers (5-5) defeated the Portland Trail Blazers (3-5) despite LeBron James’ absence.

The Lakers, who are suddenly 4-0 at home after a rocky road trip, just about made it through the sneaky-tricky test. Their highest winning margin of the season was six points, and they watched an 11-point fourth quarter evaporate to a one. Their shooting woes continue (4-for-19 from 3) and they are still trying to figure out who they are (the injuries don’t help). In any case, a team victory achieved through defense is always fruitful.

“Guys are still figuring out their rhythms in terms of the synergy with one another, each other’s tendencies and habits,” Darvin Ham said afterward about the shooting woes. “But that’ll come. … The biggest thing that you can do in the meantime, though, is be good defensively.”

The Lakers brought the necessary hustle, grit, and effort to Crypto, unlike on other occasions throughout the road trip. Without LeBron, the next four players in particular came through in a major manner.

Anthony Davis

The Lakers ultimately prevailed in this game because they had by far the best player on the court. As the game progressed, Davis progressively asserted his will after a first half that was somewhat quiet within the framework of the match. AD ended with 30 points in 40 minutes, going 10-for-12 from the free throw line, which is often a sign of his aggression. He also added 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks. The Lakers were destroyed when AD was off the court, making things difficult for Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes. Throughout the last two minutes, he made alpha plays on both ends.

“I seen the ‘fro back tonight, so I knew it thought it was going to be a good day for him,” said Austin Reaves. “Anytime he gets on the floor — obviously, never want to have anyone out, especially Bron — but anytime you’ve got Anthony Davis, you’ve got a chance. Changes the game in so many different ways the stat sheet doesn’t even show.”

Cam Reddish

Reddish put on another excellent two-way performance to close off the most significant week of his NBA career. He finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals in 38 minutes, easily leading Los Angeles in scoring at the half. Twice after making baskets, he stole the Blazers’ inbound passes. To gain possession, he (together with Taurean Prince) put up more effort in open-court hustle plays.

Reddish let a potential buzzer-beater pass him by six days ago. He scored 35 points on both Friday and Sunday, making 6 of 11 shots from beyond the arc, and playing excellent perimeter defense.

“I feel like all my teammates have just done a great job of pouring into me and telling me how they believe in me,” he said. “I haven’t had an atmosphere like this, I don’t think, in my entire NBA career. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a blessing.”

The upbeat tale of the Lakers’ first ten games is Reddish.

Austin Reaves

Reaves’ “realignment” out of the starting lineup has been effective thus far. Reaves had a fantastic 28 minutes against Portland to cap up a strong showing against the Phoenix Suns. In the halfcourt, he was most forceful when he picked and rolled with Davis. The overmatched Sixth Man finished with four rebounds, four assists, and eighteen points.

“Basketball is basketball,” Reaves said about adjusting to his new role.

Rui Hachimura

To be honest, Darvin Ham could care less if Rui Hachimura starts or comes off the bench. All he wants is for the attack mode to be engaged.

In his first start of the season, Hachimura looked fierce, earning the start in lieu of LeBron. His consistent scoring (19 points, 6 for 10 FG) was helpful, and the team’s 35-20 lockdown third quarter was largely fueled by his defensive efforts. He continued to drive hard and flung his bulky body around. He checks out at +17.

“I believe that the Rui that we all like is the one that is on the floor with an aggressive mindset,” Ham remarked.

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