Just a couple of days ago, my fellow writer Gio wrote about how important Anthony Davis’ resurgence has been to the LA Lakers. That was on display today, as the Lakers lost 116-102 to a Cleveland Cavaliers squad that is third in the Eastern Conference with a 16-9 record.
After playing for eight minutes, Davis was forced to leave the game with what the Lakers deemed a flu-like illness. That, of course, prompted criticism from some of the NBA’s talking heads.
Davis, who was fresh off scoring 55 and 44 points in his last two games, was sorely needed in the game. Without him, the Lakers had no answer for Donovan Mitchell, who went off for 43 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals while shooting 17 of 27 from the field.
Mitchell was also aided by Darius Garland’s 21 points and 11 assists along with Jarrett Allen’s 24 points and 11 rebounds.
This game was another example of how LeBron James is no longer enough to carry the Lakers against the NBA’s elite teams. That’s not a knock on James, who is still one of the league’s best and put on a good effort with 21 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in the loss. Contenders are simply too deep now for the Lakers to rely on James to outproduce two or three strong performances from the other team.
The Lakers showed the fight in them until the fourth quarter, when Russell Westbrook tied the game with 10:07 left on the clock. However, Westbrook’s rock-the-baby celebration was short-lived, as the Cavaliers closed out the game with a 26-12 run.
Lakers fans will be hoping that Davis bounces back quickly, as the Lakers can’t afford to lose any momentum. Before today, the Lakers had flipped a 2-10 start into an 8-2 run. In an extremely tight Western Conference race, every single win will matter for the chance to participate even in the play-ins.
On another note, it was nice to see the Cavaliers give James a video tribute during the game. After being vilified for ‘The Decision’ 12 years ago and then completing his redemption arc with the 2016 title, it’s clear that James is loved in his home state.