Anthony Davis Declares Lakers vs. Thunder a ‘Must-Win’ Clash This Saturd

Anthony Davis Declares Lakers vs. Thunder a ‘Must-Win’ Clash This Saturd
Anthony Davis Declares Lakers vs. Thunder a ‘Must-Win’ Clash This Saturd

Anthony Davis said the Los Angeles Lakers are treating their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder as a “must-win.”

You know things aren’t going to plan when the ‘must-win’ chatter starts up in December, but that’s where Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers (15-14) find themselves following a fourth straight defeat — this one a 118-111 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night at the Target Center.

Without LeBron James (and Gabe Vincent), the Lakers were undermanned against the West’s current top seed — and that partially includes D’Angelo Russell, who was a virtual no-show for three quarters (he had 13 points in the fourth).

Despite ankle and hip issues, Davis posted 31 points and eight rebounds against the league’s biggest and best defense.

“He tried to put the team on his shoulders,” said Darvin Ham. “And I thought he did that for the most part.”

“Overall our effort was there tonight,” added Davis. “Played a little more together, a little more confident. But it sucks to lose.”

The Lakers have dropped five of six since winning the In-Season Tournament. As Davis noted: There are no moral victories. This team needs a dub.

“It’s the NBA season. There’s going to be ups, there’s going to be downs. Right now we’re in that down period, losing four in a row. We know the team we can be. Just having that experience from last year — being counted out and then going to the conference finals. But, we just got to get back to winning. It’s that simple. … You just got to continue to fight and continue to play, play hard. Play with some effort, some energy. And we’re treating Saturday as a must-win.”

The Lakers have cited a road-heavy slate — exacerbated by the IST excursion in Las Vegas — inconsistent health and lineups, and general malaise for their winter woes. Both LeBron and AD have lamented the lack of rotation consistency within the past 24 hours (comments that can fairly be interpreted as veiled messages at Ham).

“We’re still a good ballclub. We still believe in what we can do,” Davis emphasized. “But, it’s hard to assess our team, in a sense, when it fluctuates. You got guys, in and out. Guys still, when they’re back, trying to find their legs. It’s gonna take Gabe a while, we know that. (Jarred Vanderbilt’s) pushing through what he’s pushing through. Me with the ankle. It’s just a lot. Guys playing, not playing, as far as rotations. Some games, we might see Jax and C-Wood. Some games we not. So, it’s just a lot. But we gotta still buckle down and find a way to get wins.”

After Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, Davis  — averaging 27.9 points and 13.3 rebounds this month — deemed the Wolves, OKC, and Boston Celtics Christmas matchup “three huge tests” for the Lakers. They came up short on the first one.

The Lakers are now 5-11 away from Crypto.com Arena and 9-14 in non-tourney games.

“This is a hard time right now for us,” said Rui Hachimura. “We just got to get through it.”

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