Lakers, Davis look to keep rolling as Hawks visit


After just 12 games with Anthony Davis in the fold, the Los Angeles Lakers are finding out that even when their star forward is not at his best, he still can make a giant impact on games.

Davis and the Lakers head into a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday coming off a 99-97 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Part of the reason the Lakers’ Pacific Division duel with Sacramento was closer than expected was that Davis struggled offensively for one of the few times since he has been in a Lakers uniform. He scored 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, well under his 25.5 per-game average.

And even then, Davis quite literally had his hands all over the victory. His two-handed block — his fourth rejection of the game — of a Harrison Barnes layup at the buzzer sealed a third-consecutive Lakers victory since a home defeat to the Toronto Raptors last Sunday.

Davis has played through nagging shoulder and rib injuries and, for the most part, he has also had to play through double-team defenses.

“When the shot’s not falling, I try to do the other things to help the team win,” Davis said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The team was trying to get me going; (I) just missed some shots, and I tried to take it out on the defensive end.”

LeBron James knows when to hit the gas pedal, and with Davis struggling, he took 20 shots, making 10 of them, while scoring 29 points with 11 assists. Without veteran guard Avery Bradley, who was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right leg, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope picked up his game to score 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

The Hawks will enter Sunday’s game — the last of a five-game road trip — feeling a sense of familiarity with their surroundings. Otherwise, it was a Saturday night to forget, as Atlanta was crushed 150-101 by the Lakers’ co-tenant, the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Hawks have lost five of their last six games, but a 125-121 victory at Denver against a formidable Nuggets team was at least an encouraging sign. Not so encouraging is a 2-8 record since winning back-to-back games to open the season.

Trae Young scored 20 points against the Clippers, but that was on 4-of-16 shooting, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range. The Hawks’ 37.8 percent shooting from the field was bad enough, but they allowed the Clippers to shoot 53.8 percent on 93 shots from the field. The Hawks’ defense also allowed the Clippers to shoot 51.5 percent from 3-point range.

Since a disappointing nine-point game on Nov. 6 against the Chicago Bulls — when he went 3 of 12 from the field and 0 of 8 from 3-point range — Young has averaged 29.6 points per game, putting him at 26.6 points per game this season.

In what appears to be a tactic to light a fire under himself, Young referenced disrespect in a Twitter post this week and talked about the subject Saturday.

“It’s not a shot toward anybody,” Young said about his Twitter post, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s just some people that didn’t think I’d be able to do what I’ve been doing. It’s just motivation. Everybody has a certain type of motivation that fuels them. There’s things that fuel me, and so I try to use it to my advantage.”

–Field Level Media