Los Angeles —The Lakers’ mentality is if one man goes down, then someone else has to step up and deliver, and Lebron James did just that. They rallied behind James and Super Bowl champion Aaron Donald.
When Anthony Davis went down from an ankle injury in the first half against the Utah Jazz, the Lakers could have easily folded their tents and packed it in. For deciding that this just isn’t their year and there is no post-All-Star break hope to fight for.
Davis had 17 points in 17 minutes when he got injured. He was down on the court for several moments before being helped off by his teammates. Davis — averaging 23.3 points and 9.1 rebounds — has already missed 21 games this season, including 17 due to a knee injury.
“Obviously, it took the sails out of us for quite a while when AD went out, especially with the game he was having up until that point,” James said. “It took us a minute to kind of recalibrate and get us some bounce back after that, but we closed the third quarter out in good fashion and was able to turn around in the fourth.”
The Lakers never stopped fighting, going on a 16-2 run to retake the lead and complete a come-from-behind 106-101 victory against the Jazz. James scored 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers overcame an injury to Davis and and rallied from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to seal it.
James has scored 25 points or more in a career-best 23 straight games.
“I just tried to take the inspiration of what he was able to accomplish over the past couple days,” said James of Donald. “He’s the greatest defensive player I have ever seen play the sport. For him to take time out of his day and watch us play after the parade was amazing.”
The Jazz trailed 33-29 three minutes in the second quarter before taking the lead with 10 straight points over a two-minute span.
The Jazz took a 53-46 lead into the break. But in the second half, the Lakers went into LB2 warp mode.
Utah’s largest lead was 14 points with three minutes remaining in the third quarter before the Lakers started its comeback.
Donovan Mitchell, who led Utah with 37 points, including five 3-pointers, tried to finish the Lakers off but could not do it by himself.
“What we saw LeBron do, it’s just remarkable,” coach Frank Vogel said. “What he continues to do at this point of his career, to take over a game in the fourth quarter the way that he did with his energy, will and determination, it was really something special.”
The Lakers were down 92-80 halfway through the fourth before going on a 19-4 run to snap a three-game losing skid. James had the last 10 points during the run, including a rim rocking dunk off an assist by Russell Westbrook to put LA up 96-94 with 2:08 remaining in the contest.
Mike Conley tied the game on a pair of free throws before James put Los Angeles in the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 1:24 left and snapped Utah’s six-game winning streak.
Russell Westbrook scored 17 points and seven boards while Malik Monk chipped in 13 points.
“There is no way we should have lost this game in my opinion. Credit to them. I give credit to where credit is due but we let the game slip in many different circumstances,” Mitchell said. “We played like we were up 40 in the second half and that can’t happen.”
LeBron James, as he has to be in these types of games, was sensational, especially down the stretch. He finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, and scored 15 of those points in the fourth quarter as he knocked in a bevy of clutch threes down the stretch to help the team overcome Davis’ absence and beat Utah.
“The game tightens up and go to LeBron, and he makes plays,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “But we had plenty of chances to make plays too. We just didn’t, but we put ourselves in that position. It can’t be that easy to give up a 13-point lead. We got to make teams work to come back, and grind. It was too easy.”
In the fourth quarter, Donald stood and flexed as James ran by him and flexed running down the hardwood after a driving layup got the Lakers within three points.
When the game ended, James and Donald hugged courtside.
Jazz: Bojan Bogdanovic poured in 15 points and Jordan Clarkson chipped in 13 off the bench. Rudy Gay has missed the last five games due to right knee soreness.
Lakers: Los Angeles scored the first 11 points, with six coming from AD. Carmelo Anthony missed his fifth straight game due to a right hamstring strain. Avery Bradley (right knee swelling) and Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) were also out of the lineup.
Jazz: Host Dallas on Feb. 25.
Lakers: Host LA Clippers on Feb. 25.