NBA SADNEWS: Lakers Lose Anthony Davis to Eye Injury …

Lakers Lose Anthony Davis to Eye Injury and Game to Warriors.

With 2:47 left in the 1st quarter Anthony Davis made a layup, but went down to the ground holding his face after receiving a blow to his eye via a swipe from Warriors rookie big man Trayce Jackson-Davis on a blocked shot attempt. AD would stay in the game and finish the 1st quarter, but was noticeably bothered by his eye, keeping it almost fully closed over the course of his time on the court.

At the quarter break, Davis went to the locker room but never returned to the game with the team said is an “eye contusion”. When Davis left the game, his Lakers were ahead by six points, but were outscored by 13 the rest of the game in a 128-121 loss to the Warriors that effectively brings them into a statistical tie in the standings with one more game between these teams scheduled before the end of the season.

On the night Davis scored six points to go along with four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in just under 12 minutes of court time, clearly making an impact on both sides of the floor and proving again to offer challenges for this version of the Warriors that make him a difficult matchup to manage.

The Lakers fought hard without AD unavailable, however, relying on the offensive brilliance of LeBron James to keep them in it. LeBron played with force around the basket and great skill when working around the perimeter, scoring 40 points on 15 of 23 shooting overall. LeBron was great at taking exactly what the defense gave him, leveraging his strength and shot making out of the post against smaller defenders, powering his way to the rim on the drive against the Warriors wings, and shooting the three ball when they switched bigs onto him or if the defense gave him too much room.

And when LeBron wasn’t creating shots for himself, he was dishing to his teammates to help them get good looks, tallying nine assists in the process. Knowing all the ways the Warriors try to limit him with the ball in his hands, LeBron was great at moving the ball on to open teammates, skipping the ball over the top when secondary help shaded towards him or simply moving the ball onto the open man as they darted towards him in rotation. With eight rebounds on the ledger as well, LeBron nearly tallied a triple-double to try to pick up the slack for losing AD.

Joining LeBron with a good offensive night was D’Angelo Russell who posted a double-double with 23 points and 13 assists. Russell did not shoot the ball as efficiently as he can with a nine of 21 showing (three of 10 from behind the arc), but his passing and shot creation was especially needed without AD available to take on some of that offensive usage and serve as a counterbalance in the paint to the Lakers perimeter-based attack.

But, while the Lakers found ways to score without AD, their defense was not able to find similar success. The Warriors finished the game with 49 points in the paint, but 45 of those came after AD left the game, which was indicative of how they attacked without the Lakers defensive anchor protecting the rim. The Warriors certainly still relied on their outside shot making, but were diligent in attacking the paint on drives and cuts while Davis was in the locker room.

In a twist of irony, it was Steph Curry who most benefited from this paint-based attack. Curry led the Warriors with 31 points on 12 of 24 shooting, but just three of those makes came from beyond the arc. His other nine made field goals came in the paint, with eight of them right at the basket as he cut, drove, and dove his way into the restricted area for layups.

Also having big nights for the Warriors were Klay Thompson (26 points) and Jonathan Kuminga (23 points). Klay was hot from the outside, coming off pin-down screens and sliding into the gaps of the Lakers perimeter defense to connect on five of his 10 three-point attempts and then curling his way into mid-range jumpers and runners for his other baskets. Kuminga was nearly as dynamic as a shooter, knocking down several jumpers (including two three-pointers) while also getting fed lobs for dunks as a weak side cutter.

And, ultimately, that was the difference in this game. While neither team’s defense was too effective in slowing the other side down, the Warriors were able to create better shots more consistently, particularly with Davis unavailable to serve as a deterrent around the basket or to help slow down some of the Warriors cuts and off-ball actions as a helper. And that ability to consistently get to better shots paid off when the Lakers stumbled on a few possessions late that could have further cut into their lead to make them sweat some.

So, the Lakers now wait on a health update on AD and hope he will be available when the team returns to action on Monday when the Hawks come to town.

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