Coming into this contest, many expected the Los Angeles Lakers to not have much of a chance against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Los Angeles was once again without LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, while the Warriors, who had a five-game winning streak, welcomed Stephen Curry back from a lower leg injury.
But the Lakers shocked everyone by leaping to a 32-12 first-quarter lead. The Warriors fought back, making it a one-point affair at halftime, but Anthony Davis and crew regained the lead early in the third period and consistently remained one step ahead.
It resulted in an impressive and unexpected 113-105 victory for L.A.
The win puts the Lakers into 11th place in the Western Conference, half a game out of 10th place and 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Minnesota Timberwolves. They’re 6-3 since the players they acquired in the Russell Westbrook trade first debuted.
Anthony Davis: A-plus
For a long time, many have doubted if Davis could carry the Lakers whenever James happens to be out with an injury, but that is exactly what the superstar big man did Sunday.
He went at the Warriors early and scored 15 points in the first quarter. He kept the pressure on throughout in the paint and from the perimeter. He even hit a 3-pointer, something he seldom does.
Davis finished with 39 points on 14-of-25 shooting and 10-of-13 from the free throw line, to go along with eight rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots. With the game hanging in the balance in the last two minutes, he was fouled and hit both free throws. Then he converting a field goal with less than a minute left.
Jarred Vanderbilt: A
Vanderbilt made his presence felt, not too much unlike a week ago in L.A.’s stirring come-from-behind win over the Dallas Mavericks. He had a game-high 13 rebounds, and he scored 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting while even adding four assists in 24 minutes.
Vanderbilt guarded multiple Warriors players over the course of the game, and his ability to do so on the perimeter has been such a boon to a Lakers team that has lacked such a defensive wing for years.
Troy Brown Jr.: A
Brown continued his outstanding shooting on Sunday by scoring 14 points on 5-of-10 overall and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. He even grabbed eight rebounds, which helped L.A. outrebound the Warriors by four.
Dennis Schroder: C-plus
Schroder shot 4-of-13 from the field, but he had some good moments defensively, particularly against Curry. That defensive pressure helped result in Curry going 8-of-20.
The German native also contributed six assists while committing zero turnovers. Some may not consider him a true point guard, but he has done a nice job of helping to fill the void at that position with James and Russell out.
Malik Beasley: C-plus/B-minus
This wasn’t a great game from Beasley, but it wasn’t a really bad one either. He went 4-of-9 overall and 1-of-4 from downtown to score 12 points while adding three rebounds and one assist in 31 minutes.
Sooner or later, the Lakers will need Beasley to get hot and stay hot for more than one game if they’re to make the playoffs and do damage there.
Rui Hachimura: D
Hachimura has been struggling offensively lately. He made just one of his five shots on Sunday and mustered just two points and three rebounds in 20 minutes.
When L.A. acquired him in late January, it looked like a good move. Now it’s starting to look like a move that will not pay off, although that could certainly change over the next several weeks.
Wenyen Gabriel: B
Gabriel got just eight minutes of playing time today, but he certainly helped out by grabbing six rebounds and scoring a bucket, although he did have two turnovers.
Austin Reaves: A/A-plus
Reaves has stepped up very well lately amid the Lakers’ injuries. He has pitched in to replace the facilitating they have lost due to the injuries to James and Russell, while becoming a scoring threat when needed and doing so with great efficiency.
Against Golden State, he was 5-of-9 overall and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and scored 16 points. He also dished eight assists and added two rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot in 28 minutes.
Reaves is earning himself what should be a handsome contract extension this summer.
Lonnie Walker: C
Walker just couldn’t get his shots to fall with any consistency Sunday. He went 3-of-9 overall and 1-of-5 from 3-point land. However, two of his made shots came early in the fourth quarter to help keep L.A. in the lead.
Mo Bamba: Incomplete
Bamba played just two minutes, and in that time he got two rebounds.
Head coach Darvin Ham’s decision to play Bamba very sparingly is very puzzling. He has the ability to give the Lakers solid shot-blocking and rebounding when Davis is resting, not to mention legitimate 3-point shooting. However, Ham has mostly elected to go small when Davis isn’t in the game by putting Gabriel at the 5.