The first play of the second half was designed for Anthony Davis in the post and he delivered with a four-foot turnaround off a pass from Cam Reddish. The second play of the second half was also designed for Davis in the post and he delivered again with a six-foot turnaround off a pass from LeBron James. The third straight play in the second half was designed for Davis yet again and once more he delivered with a 10-foot turnaround off a pass from D’Angelo Russell.
The plan, obviously, was for the Lakers to feed Davis in the post and to feed him some more.
Davis overwhelmed the Houston Rockets in the paint, scoring 13 of his 27 points in the third quarter.
His foul trouble — Davis eventually fouled out with 58 seconds left — was all that kept him from being even more of a force down low.
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“Yeah, it just allowed me to be aggressive,” Davis said. “Obviously, the foul trouble kind of slowed it down… When I’m able to have that much room when they are not doubling, it gives me a lot of room to operate either for myself or make plays for my team. When I catch it down there, I just try to be aggressive and go score.”
Here are four takeaways from the Lakers’ 105-104 win over the Rockets Sunday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Efficient all the way around for Anthony Davis
From the start of the game, Davis was forceful with his play. He attacked the Rockets and his teammates made sure he got the basketball in his spots.
His first made shot was a dunk and his third shot came off a lob pass from Taurean Prince.
Davis began the game missing just two of his seven shots.
For the entire game, he was efficient, going 11-for-15 from the field, to go along with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
“They don’t double and then I have an advantage where I can go score, which I did a lot early on in the game and then they brought the double-team and I was able to kick it out and we got some swing-swings and some shots,” Davis said.
Davis said he woke up Sunday morning ready to play fantasy football and it was “going well” for him.
He laughed, and then added that he had gotten some treatment at home on his left adductor/hip spasm injury.
Davis played 33 minutes against the Rockets and looked much more lively than he did Friday night in Portland.
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“Everybody is dealing with whatever they got going on with,” he said. “I just try to go out there and be a presence on the floor. Being on the floor helps my team. I’m never going to put myself in a situation where I can probably miss an extended period of time. But if I feel comfortable and the medical staff and my team feels comfortable for me to go out there and play, then I’m going to go do that. I’ve been feeling good.”
The moment of truth arrived for Austin Reaves late in the fourth quarter of a tense and tight game between the Lakers and Rockets
The score was tied when James hit Reaves with a pass as the clock was winding down.
Reaves calmly unleashed a 31-foot jumper that gave the Lakers a 103-100 lead.
“I just believe in myself,” Reaves said. “Bron made a good pass and I thought I was open. They kept telling me it was really deep. I don’t think I understood how far it was, but I just tried to get a good look and make a shot.”
Reaves completed his night with 17 points on five-for-seven shooting, two-for-three on three-pointers and five-for-six on free throws. Throw in his six assists and six rebounds, and it was another solid outing for Reaves.
Three-point shooting remains a struggle
It was a tough shooting night for the Lakers starting backcourt and for the team as a whole from three-point range.
Prince (one-for-11) and Russell (one-for-eight) were a combined two-for-19 from the field and one-for-nine from three-point range.
As a group, the Lakers shot just 20.7% from three-point range, going six-for-29.
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“Those guys are going to hit those looks,” Ham said. “We wholeheartedly trust those guys to take those shots and I want them to continue to take them. Some nights, the ball just doesn’t go down for whatever reason.”
Weathering the scheduling storm
The Lakers are playing a stretch in which they play a slew of games that can take a toll.
They play three games in four nights this week — including back-to-back games Tuesday night against Utah and Wednesday night against Dallas — and four games total this week.
They just finished playing four games last week that included a back-to-back set.
“So, just the biggest thing right now is the recovery,” Ham said. “We get our maintenance in tomorrow and be ready for Utah, to talk about Utah Tuesday morning. We’re just trying to be the best version of ourselves and keep putting the right foot in front of the other.”
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.