“The Shocking Truth About Lakers establishment identity….

“The Shocking Truth About Lakers establishment identity….

Anthony Davis: Lakers establishing identity heading into second half

SALT LAKE CITY — The Los Angeles Lakers’ 138-122 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday was not only the team’s sixth win in its past seven games heading into the NBA All-Star break, but it represented a declaration of identity, according to Anthony Davis.

“[It’s] not what we can be, but it’s who we are,” Davis said after putting up 37 points and 15 rebounds against the Jazz. “We’re starting to establish that we’re going to be a fast-paced team, a team that likes to get into the paint, get to the line. But also be tenacious on the defensive end. Creating that identity for what we have to be moving forward.

“We can’t be coming back from All-Star and [wonder], ‘All right, what type of team are we?’ This is what we have to be. This is who we are. And we’ve got to make sure how we’re playing as of late, the past two, three, four weeks, keeping that identity and carrying it over into post All-Star.”

Wednesday’s win came with LeBron James out of the lineup. The 21-year veteran stayed back in L.A. to rest his sore left ankle, with the Lakers playing the second night of a back-to-back.

Although the Lakers are still No. 9 in the West, their recent uptick has improved their record to 30-26 — the first time they have been four games above .500 since mid-December, shortly after their in-season tournament championship.

While Davis posted team highs in points and rebounds, the Lakers’ effort was anchored by a career-high 36 points by Rui Hachimura, who shot an efficient 13-for-19 from the field.

Hachimura, who was a standout for the Lakers during their postseason run to the Western Conference finals last spring, had yet to find a consistent groove this season. His presence was missing so much that last week, after he went just 1-for-5 in a loss to the Denver Nuggets, Davis said the team confronted him, imploring him to be more assertive.

“We need Rui to be great in order for us to be great,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “He’s one of the main pieces for us, and when he’s playing like that, along with all of the other weapons we have, we’re a pretty hard to team beat.”

Hachimura acknowledged his importance in the Lakers’ puzzle.

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