Anthony Davis slipped through the lane and finished at the basket for an easy two points on one possession in the first quarter on Friday night and scared Dallas’ Josh Green and grabbed a defensive rebound on the next trip down the court.
It was the kind of impact that Davis could present, his unique two-way impact on a game that is why the Lakers can still be credibly optimistic about their season, even if they never exceed .500. Don’t exceed
But one reason the Lakers lost more than won was Wednesday in Houston, when Davis did not play in the Rockets’ win.
With him back on the court on Friday, it didn’t get any better.
The Lakers lost in a heartbreaking match, with Maxi Kleber hitting a three at the buzzer to defeat the Lakers 111–110.
The Lakers have been clear in their strategy over the past month, prioritizing health ahead of standings. With no restrictions, no back-to-back games to stop anyone, Friday, the Lakers had just one chance.
With the Dallas Mavericks, a team just one game ahead of them in the standings entering Friday’s game, the Lakers had a chance to make a real move. Minnesota, Golden State, New Orleans, and Portland all lost, giving the team a precious opportunity to gain ground.
He didn’t take it.
After trailing by as many as 14, the Lakers fought back to cut the lead to five in the fourth before the Mavericks mounted a comeback of their own. Kleber’s three free throws (after Davis fouled on three) made it a one-score game.
Davis split two free throws to give the Mavericks a chance to win or tie.
There would be no overtime, with the Lakers forcing the ball out of Kyrie Irving’s hands, but Kleber stepped up and curled up the shot as soon as the horn sounded.
Davis finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds and five other Lakers scored at least 10 on a night when the team was badly outnumbered from the three-point line by Irving and the Mavericks.
Dallas scored 11 more points than the Lakers, who missed 14 free throws compared to just four for the Mavericks.
Making matters worse, it’s the team’s second-straight loss after being allowed to steal a game from Houston on Wednesday with Davis out for precautionary reasons.
After the loss to the Rockets, Lakers coach Darwin Hamm said, “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you.” “It doesn’t matter who is in or out of the lineup, we have to be ready. Those who are available and able to play, we have to come forward and do our best.”
And after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot and missing 20 games with the injury, Davis clearly has “the best foot” even if he risks re-injuring it in back-to-back games. be free from
But, even so, that strategy has a cost — and it’s one team from around the Western Conference is willing to pay.
By emphasizing potential postseason health rather than regular-season victories, teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Mavericks are sacrificing important games in a potentially fraught playoff race.
It’s not completely off the radar. At the team’s shootaround on Friday, Dennis Schroder told reporters he has his eyes set on a specific place — outside the play-in tournament.
“I think with how we are as a group right now, the chemistry, I think, is in a perfect place,” Schroder said.
“Like I said, we just have to try to get the No. 6 seed, that’s our target and our desire. And then go from there.
Still, the No. 6 seed will open the playoffs on the road.
Ham, who has more than 25 years of NBA experience as a player and a coach, has observed that the shift towards health has become the most important thing for teams as they head into the post-season.
“I don’t think it’s completely changed, but I think health takes precedence [seeding]”… and the playoffs, I don’t want to say this to exaggerate, but you have to win on the road at some point to be world champion, so you just have to be solid, healthy, confident and playing in good rhythm.” In.
“And no matter where you play, you give yourself a chance. But just having home court, I’ve seen teams have many, many, many post-season home-court advantages and It didn’t matter, because he dropped those home games.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times,