Even on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers played with great energy and effort throughout the game, running out in transition for easy scoring opportunities while still getting back defensively and forcing the Jazz to earn their points.
Anthony Davis led the way for Los Angeles on both ends as he scored 26 points but more importantly, anchored the team’s strong defensive performance as they held Utah to only 96 points on the road.
After the game, Davis was asked how he assesses defensive outings for himself and he admitted he has assumed responsibility for making sure the team plays to their standard, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Just try to make plays. Help my team out whenever I can. I think our defensive mindset is great right now. Even at the end of the game, Kuz could’ve gave up the layup…he hustled down and gets a blocked shot. Those things are contagious and I just try to lead it every time I’m on the floor and hope guys follow and guys are doing it. Anytime they come out defensively we’ve been great and I try to set the tone.”
Davis has not been shy about vocalizing his desire to win the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and so far he has stayed true to his word about ensuring he and the Lakers are as successful as possible on that end. Every night, he has managed to come up with several plays that ignite their defensive intensity which in turn helped key runs that end up being the difference in games.
The 26-year-old previously came out and said that he takes it personally when players try to score on him and it is that type of mindset that should propel him and his teammates on a game-to-game basis to perform to their defensive expectations. Head coach Frank Vogel and LeBron James have also emphasized their defense needs to come first and foremost, so it is clear that everyone on the Lakers is aware of what they need to do to win games.
The purple and gold have another opportunity to build some momentum as they next take on a Portland Trail Blazers team that has so far underwhelmed. They will be shorthanded in the frontcourt with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins out, so Davis should be able to capitalize on what will be a favorable matchup.