After the Lakers' 118-109 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs a few days earlier, Anthony Davis was not happy. So much so that he knocked over a cart after the third quarter, something he admitted to and even ripped into the team's defence postgame.
"We didn't play any defence. Our defence was sh-- tonight," Davis said. "Just a lot of frustration. I did [knock over the cart]."
Although his assessment might have been justified for that game, that's quite harsh for a Lakers squad that wasn't necessarily the healthiest in that game and for a team, who's defensive rating ranks among the top 5 in the league.
Either way, Davis didn't play the team's next game against the Chicago Bulls, but on Sunday, against the Rockets in Houston, he ensured the Lakers defence was back on track.
Registering game-high tallies of 27 points and four blocks on an efficient shooting night of 9-of-12 from the field, Davis was a game-high +29 in his 30 minutes. But what stood out was the impact of his presence on the team's defence.
Take a look at this possession, where the Lakers record what looks like three blocks - one each by AD, LeBron James, and Marc Gasol.
Swattin' on a Sunday- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 11, 2021
(📺: @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/kcNiSKhqNJ
Davis made most of his impact in the first half, especially in the second quarter where the Lakers outscored the Rockets 40-25.
In 16 first-half minutes, he scored 21 points on a perfect 8-of-8 from the field while also registering three blocks.
AD is a perfect 8-8 (21 PTS) at the half on NBA LP! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Kxe1W0hkD4- NBA (@NBA) January 11, 2021
Head coach Frank Vogel called the victory 'an identity win' and rightfully so. The Lakers were the superior team, as a collective, on both ends of the floor.
Five players finished in double figures, including three off the bench. LeBron James finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists while 20-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker continued to impress by contributing across the board - 17 points, five rebounds, four steals, and three assists in 20 minutes.
Talen Horton-Tucker took over late 🔥 @Thortontucker- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 11, 2021
21 Mins pic.twitter.com/u9bOQXWmz1
Los Angeles held Houston to shooting percentages of 41.6% from the field and 29.3% from beyond the arc while scoring 30 points off the Rockets' 21 turnovers. The hosts got a bucket to go in the final seconds, otherwise this would be the fourth time this season that the Lakers would have held their opponents to 100 or fewer points.
Postgame, Davis praised their energy and effort.
"I came out with the emphasis of being aggressive on the defensive end," Davis said in his on-court postgame interview. "And it kind of trickled down to everybody."
"Everybody was just on point defensively, our communication was at a high level." @AntDavis23 spoke post-game with @LakersReporter about the #Lakers defensive effort against the Rockets. pic.twitter.com/ZARIb4HQs2- Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 11, 2021
For the Rockets, who will host the Lakers again in a couple of days, James Harden was the top contributor with 20 points, nine assists, and six rebounds but this one was all Lakers.
Los Angeles now holds of the league-best record at 8-3.
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