Davis sparks Lakers over Sixers
Anthony Davis produced a devastating burst of scoring as the Los Angeles Lakers came from behind to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 120-107 on Tuesday.
Davis led the Lakers scoring with 37 points at the Staples Center after the hosts recovered from a slow start to run out convincing winners.
The Sixers had led by 13 points at one stage in the first quarter but were reeled in by a relentless second quarter onslaught from the Lakers.
Davis poured in 18 points in the second quarter alone as the Lakers outscored the Sixers 37-19 to lead 65-54 at the break.
The Lakers stretched the lead in the third quarter before closing out the win in the fourth, LeBron James chipping in 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.
The win leaves the Lakers on the brink of clinching a playoff spot.
They lead the Western Conference with 47 wins against 13 defeats.
“We were terrible in the first quarter,” Davis said afterwards.
“We weren’t locked into our gameplan. We had to come back in the second quarter and get it going. We can’t afford to rely on the offense as a buyout for our defense.”
But Davis said the Lakers were slowly building towards a playoff mindset as the regular season enters the home stretch.
“We’re close. We’re not too far off,” he said. “There’s still stuff for us to get better at.”
– ‘Masterpierce’ in Boston –
In Boston, Caris LeVert delivered the performance of the night after exploding for a career-high 51 points as the Brooklyn Nets downed the Celtics 129-120 in overtime.
LeVert’s hot hand saw him drain 17 of 26 attempts from the field for a 65.4% shooting success rate as the Celtics fell to 41-18 in the Eastern Conference.
The 25-year-old LeVert erupted after half-time with 37 points. His final tally also included every Nets point in overtime, when they blew away the Celtics 11-2.
LeVert’s virtuoso display couldn’t have come at a better time for Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, who has already been without new signing Kevin Durant for the entire season and who has also lost Kyrie Irving to season-ending surgery.
“I know not having those guys, obviously it’s not ideal, but we’ve also learned a lot about the team, learned a lot about our players,” Atkinson said.
“You learn a lot through these struggles and the fight … I look at it positively, we’re learning a lot this season.
“Anyone that says we’re waiting for next year I’m like, no, we’re building for next year.”
LeVert also earned a seal of approval from the injured Durant.
“That 50 was beautiful, Vert,” Durant wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for that masterpiece.”
The Nets improved to 26-33 to stay on course for a playoff berth. Brooklyn occupy eighth spot in the East.
In other games Tuesday, the Los Angeles Clippers overpowered the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to notch their fifth straight victory.
Kawhi Leonard led the scoring with 25 points for the Clippers with support from Paul George (16 points) and Montrezl Harrell (16). The Clippers remain second in the Western Conference with 42 wins against 19 losses.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Leonard is hitting his peak in time for the playoffs with no doubts about his fitness.
“Health-wise, Kawhi can guard anyone now,” said Rivers. “He doesn’t have to worry about his minutes. There’s no restrictions on him anymore.”
In Charlotte, Tim Duncan’s stint as acting head coach of the San Antonio Spurs got off to a winning start with a 104-103 win over the Hornets.
Spurs legend Duncan stepped up to take over the head coaching duties from Gregg Popovich, who missed the game for personal reasons.
Dejounte Murray led the scoring for the Spurs with 21 points while DeMar DeRozan was restricted to 12 points and 10 assists.