The Los Angeles Lakers lost 112-108 to the New York Knicks on Sunday, and Anthony Davis blamed himself for the layoff as his team squandered a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since opening play. the season record is 0-0.
“My game,” Davis said when asked about the loss. “I played terrible. I couldn’t find my shot: free throws, free throws, everything. Guys did their job. I just didn’t do my job tonight.”
Davis finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block, but he missed 10 of 18 field goal attempts and also missed four of five free throw attempts.
In the fourth quarter of New York’s 27-22 win over Los Angeles, Davis went 1-for-4 from the field in nine minutes with Jalen Brunson out with a left leg injury.
“It’s on everybody,” Lakers guard Dennis Schroder said. “When we lose, we win as a team. When we win, we win as a team. But AD, he’s trying to be great all the time and he’s been great for us 90 percent of the time … So he can’t take it to himself.”
Instead of finishing their record, the Lakers dropped to 33-35 and were temporarily out of the standings as the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference.
Davis’ poor performance came after his teammates praised him in Los Angeles’ 122-112 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday, when he scored just eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. but urged the group to continue what they were working on.
Davis didn’t think he would present a defensive scenario for the Toronto Knicks.
“I just missed a lot of shots,” he said. “I don’t think they did anything special. A lot of singles, they doubled up a few times. But I don’t think it was anything that came from Toronto.”
Even if Davis didn’t play up to his standards, the Lakers had their chances. They led by as many as four points late in the third quarter – D’Angelo Russell scored 31 of his season-high 33 points before the fourth quarter began.
“It hurt,” said Russell, who went 13-19 for the game after starting 9-for-10 from the field. “It hurt us. I think we struggled, we tried to do everything we could. We didn’t get enough shots, we didn’t have enough stops, we didn’t make enough shots. It just didn’t go our way, I think.”
Los Angeles made one last push when Schroeder’s layup with 19.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter cut the Knicks’ lead in half, but then the Lakers took too long to foul, Josh Hart stopping the clock with 5.0 seconds left. He made two free throws to cut New York’s lead back to four and seal the win.
“You try to force a turnover, then a foul,” Lakers coach Darwin Hamm explained. “Also, they spread us out. They did a great job of getting off the ball quickly and letting the clock run down. If I could do it again, I would definitely do it. It’s just a shame we didn’t get a timely foul.”
Despite seeing their three-game winning streak come to an end, there was one positive for the Lakers on Sunday. LeBron James has rejoined the team after missing last week due to medical reasons. The 20-year veteran no longer wears his shoes. The hamstring injury in his right leg will be reevaluated in about a week and a half, the team said.
“It’s good to unplug a little bit for that, too,” Ham said of James. “Don’t necessarily break up, but be mentally calm about everything that’s going on throughout the year. … It’s not just about him being healthy, it’s about him being in a good place mentally and spiritually, so we’re the best version of him when he comes back.”
Los Angeles has 14 games left on the schedule, starting on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
The Pelicans (33-35) are one of four teams with identical records in the Western standings, along with the Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz.
“It shouldn’t take every game to motivate a Western Conference team,” Schroder said. “I think we have to be motivated and ready for every game. But we have to win the next two games.”