Davis mas­ter­class as Lak­ers sink Jazz

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

OR­LANDO (AFP) — An­thony Davis scored 42 points as the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers clinched top seed­ing in the West­ern Con­fer­ence on Mon­day with a 116108 de­feat of the Utah Jazz.

Stung by de­feat to the Toronto Raptors on Satur­day, the Lak­ers roared back in im­pres­sive fash­ion to over­power a tal­ented Utah line-up.

The win sealed top spot in the West for the Lak­ers for the first time since 2010, when the late Kobe Bryant would go on to lead the team to the NBA Fi­nals crown.

On Mon­day, Davis stamped his class on the con­test with a hefty points tally as well as com­ing up with 12 re­bounds, four as­sists and three steals.

LeBron James fin­ished with 22 points and nine as­sists as the Lak­ers fi­nally pulled away from a stub­born Utah side.

“All the stuff we’ve been through this sea­son, to clinch No.1 in the West means a lot but we’re not fin­ished,” Davis said.

“It’s just one of the mile­stones of many to get to where we want to be.”

Davis’s points haul in­cluded 23 in the first half alone.

It was the 20th time Davis has scored 20 points or more in the first half as a Laker, the first player from the fran­chise to achieve that feat since Bryant, who died in a he­li­copter crash in Jan­uary.

“To be in a cat­e­gory with him means a lot,” Davis said. “I know he’s look­ing down on us, cheer­ing us on.”

Else­where on Mon­day, Fred VanVleet scored a ca­reer-high 36 points as the Toronto Raptors dug deep to de­feat the Mi­ami Heat 107-103 in their East­ern Con­fer­ence clash.

VanVleet led the scor­ing for the Raptors with a haul that in­cluded seven three-point­ers from 12 at­tempts as Toronto im­proved to 48-18 to re­main in sec­ond place in the East.

‘Unique de­fense’

VanVleet also made a big con­tri­bu­tion de­fen­sively for the Raptors, forc­ing a de­flec­tion of a Jimmy But­ler

pass later on that de­nied Mi­ami an op­por­tu­nity for a game-ty­ing score. VanVleet fin­ished with four turnovers.

It was an all-round dis­play that left Raptors coach Nick Nurse purring with plea­sure af­ter the vic­tory.

“What makes his de­fense unique is that he doesn’t look very fast out there, but his lat­eral side-to-side speed and the way he can move his feet is in­cred­i­ble, it’s de­ceiv­ing,” Nurse said of VanVleet.

VanVleet was backed of­fen­sively by Cameroon’s Pas­cal Si­akam, who fin­ished with 22 points and three as­sists.

Kyle Lowry had 14 points, while Serge Ibaka also made dou­ble fig­ures with 15 points for the de­fend­ing NBA cham­pi­ons.

Go­ran Dragic led the Mi­ami scor­ers with 25 points, while Kelly Olynyk had 17 off the bench. But­ler and Jae Crow­der both fin­ished with 16 points apiece for Mi­ami.

Else­where on Mon­day, Nikola Jo­kic had a triple-dou­ble as the Den­ver Nuggets over­pow­ered the Ok­la­homa City Thunder in a 121113 over­time vic­tory.

Jo­kic fin­ished with 30 points, 12 re­bounds and 10 as­sists in a stel­lar per­for­mance for Den­ver, who im­proved to 44-23 with the win.

The Nuggets re­main third in the West­ern Con­fer­ence stand­ings be­hind the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers and Los An­ge­les Clip­pers.

Michael Porter led the Den­ver scor­ing with a ca­reer-high 37 points, while Paul Mill­sap and Monte Mor­ris had 17 points each.

Ok­la­homa City’s scor­ing was led by Shai Gil­geous-Alexan­der with 24 points, Chris Paul (23) and Danilo Gal­li­nari (20).

‘We needed it’

Jo­kic, who dom­i­nated over­time to help Den­ver close out the win, said the vic­tory was re­ward for the hard work the Nuggets have put in be­hind the scenes since be­ing se­questered in­side the NBA’s “bub­ble.”

“We needed it,” Jo­kic said. “For the guys that are here, this is I think their 24th day, 27th day that they are here, they are work­ing.”


Utah Jazz guard Dono­van Mitchell, right, con­trols the ball near Los An­ge­les Lak­ers for­ward An­thony Davis dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NBA bas­ket­ball game Mon­day in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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