Lakers Sitting In Eighth In West As Sudden Rise Marches On

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers defeated the Cavaliers 116-97 Saturday afternoon, and now have won nine out of their last 10 games, moving into the eighth seed in the NBA Western Conference for the first time since December.Anthony Davis, NBA, Los Angeles Lakers

D’Angelo Russell had a game-high 28 points off of six three-pointers, while LeBron James scored 24 points and dished out 12 assists against his former team of 11 seasons, which he now sports a 19-3 record throughout his career. 

After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Lakers went on a 24-4 run, taking a big lead at the beginning of the second quarter. Yet, coming out of halftime, the Cavs looked poised to make a comeback, as they went on a 17-4 run themselves, forcing three turnovers in consecutive defensive possessions at the eight-minute mark, tying the game at 67-67. Then following a Donovan Mitchell(10 points) three-pointer and Evan Mobley(8 points) free throw, the Cavs took the lead 73-69. Nevertheless, the tide quickly turned back into the Lakers’ favor, as the home team countered with a 19-0 run, and suddenly the score was 88-73 at the end of the third quarter. 

Darius Garland had 26 points and Caris LeVert added 21 points, but the Cavs as a team only scored 41 points in the second half and ended the game shooting 43.3% from the field compared to the Lakers, who made 56.3% of their shots. Darvin Ham noted, “The key is for us to be playing at a high level on both sides of the ball.” 

LeBron James, NBA, Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Brandon Santomauro/Hoops Wire)

Anthony Davis, who had 22 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals in Saturday’s win, talked about the team making it back into the playoff picture, “We’re very confident in our ballclub,” Davis said. “We laugh about like, oh, winning nine out of 10, you know, 10 out of 11, whatever. and we’re not gaining anywhere. That’s how good the West is.”

In a tightly contested Western Conference, the Lakers currently have a 45-33 record and are 2.5 games behind the fifth-seeded Mavs (47-30) and 2.5 games in front of the 10th-seeded Warriors (42-35). With four games left, the Lakers will take on the first-seeded Timberwolves on Sunday, before facing off with the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Pelicans to end the regular season. 

To point out, the NBA playoff play-in tournament will take place April 16-April 19, as the 7-10 seeds will battle it out to see who comes away with the seventh and eighth seed spots heading into the postseason. If the play-in tournament started on April 6 in the Western Conference, it would be Pelicans (7) vs. Lakers (8); and Kings (9) vs. Warriors (10). To clarify, the winner between the seventh and eighth seed would make the playoffs, while the loser would have to win against the winner of the ninth and 10th seed matchup, to keep their spot in the playoffs.

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