Anthony Davis Drops 40, Lakers Cruise Past Rockets

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The Lakers hit the mid-point of their five-game road trip and continued their momentum, winning their third straight by downing the Rockets 134-109 on Sunday night. The win moves the Lakers to two games over .500 and pushes them back into the 7th seed in the West.

Coming off consecutive 38-point games, Anthony Davis one-upped himself by scoring 40 points vs. Houston, knocking down 15 of his 20 shots from the field while going 10-12 from the foul line. AD added nine rebounds and two blocks against the Rockets, offering some revenge for the last game these teams played when Davis sat out on the second night of back-to-back.

Davis was masterful against a Houston group that did not have a lot of rim protection, attacking the paint with relentless consistency to either get baskets or draw fouls. From establishing deep post position in the halfcourt or running hard to the front of the rim in transition or early offense, AD understood where his advantages were and worked to exploit them.

Beyond Davis’ dominance, LeBron James was fantastic, posting a triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and a game-high 11 assists on the night. Asserting himself early offensively to help AD set the tone, LeBron morphed into more of a playmaker after the opening minutes, getting the Lakers out in transition where he kicked the ball ahead or raced the ball up himself and then dished to teammates for easy baskets.

The Lakers transition play was a key driver of their success in this one, with the Lakers taking advantage of a key weakness for the Rockets this season. Coming into the game the Rockets were surrendering 19.3 transition points a night in their last 10 games, and the Lakers were able to top that number, scoring 20 on 9-15 shooting. All night the Lakers tried to race the court for easy baskets, with multiple players benefitting from the team-wide emphasis.

One reason the Lakers were able to get out into transition so often was because of how disruptive their defense was, and a big part of that was Rui Hachimura. Coming off a wonderful all-court game vs. the T’Wolves where his major impact wasn’t always reflected with box score stats, Rui was again great defensively in this one, getting his hands on loose balls, attacking the defensive glass, and tallying three blocks to provide excellent paint protection.

Rui used kept up that same energy offensively, attacking the rim off the dribble and running the floor hard for easy baskets inside. And when he wasn’t able to get all the way to the rim, Rui used good footwork and court presence to get to his excellent pull up jumper and hurt the defense that way. Rui scored 20 points on 10-14 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds (10 defensive), to really give the Lakers a boost off the bench.

The Lakers have now won three games in a row and will look to continue their momentum on the road when they travel to Utah for a matchup with the Jazz on Tuesday.

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