LeBron James has been absolutely brilliant in his second season in Los Angeles as he recorded another double-double, posting 29 points and 11 assists while also providing solid defensive effort. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also seemed to finally break out as he finished the evening with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting with the majority of those points coming in the fourth quarter.
Davis, who returned after a one-game absence, had a rare off night shooting from the field as he went 5-of-12, managing 17 points in the process. The Kings made a concerted effort to get the ball out of his hands by doubling whenever he caught the ball, something that he has struggled with to begin the season.
However, Davis also seemed to exert more effort and energy on the defensive end and he explained how his shooting woes influenced that.
“It definitely increases my mindset. When the shot’s not falling, I try to do the other things to help this team win,” Davis explained.
“The team was trying to get me going, I just missed some shots. I try to take it out on the defensive end. Making plays for my team and make sure the other team didn’t score. Kind of just make up for it.”
Davis has already begun to make a strong case for the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award as he has been by far and away the team’s best player on that side of the ball with his ability to contest shots at the rim and switch onto guards or wings on the perimeter. Against Sacramento, he blocked four shots and added a steal while also deterring several drives to the rim.
Davis would also come up with the biggest play of the game as he was able to rotate over after Harrison Barnes faked a handoff and drove to rim. Barnes attempted to lay the ball up, but Davis was able to jump straight up and block it, sealing the win for the Lakers.
The Lakers defense has been one of the more surprising developments since no one expected this kind of production from them so early on and Davis has been instrumental to that. His presence on the defensive end is a game-changer and will help carry this team on nights when the offense does not have it going.