Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis discusses importance of sustaining big leads

(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis talked about a problem the team needs to correct following their recent win over the Suns.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been a fun team to watch this season. In comparison to how they have been over the last several years, this particular group is superior in every sense of the word.

Following their recent triumph over the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers are sitting at 27-7, good for the best record in the West. As of when this was written, they are 3.5 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets.

Albeit their record is strong, Wednesday night’s game did pose a bit of a concern for Los Angeles. It is something that is not entirely new, either.

The portion of the game that was not a concern for L.A. was the first half. The Lakers were firing on all cylinders and carried a 74-41 advantage at intermission. On paper, it looked like it was going to be an easy “W” for the purple and gold.

As a matter of fact, the Lakers’ biggest lead in this one was actually 36 points. They were essentially making the Suns look like a G-league squad.

The Lakers played much differently in the second half, though. The fourth quarter was especially difficult to watch and what looked like a blowout originally became more of a heart stopper.

Going in the fourth stanza, the Lakers still held a sizable cushion and were ahead of the opposition by 22 points. Head coach Frank Vogel had his starters on the pine at that juncture, and many thought the starting five would get to rest for the final 12 minutes. It is the kind of load management that folks do want to see.

However, the Suns did not quit and it showed. They made things rather interesting at the end and the Lakers’ faithful got quiet for a spell.

Let alone the fact that the Lakers could not buy a field goal, the defense was nearly nonexistent. It was flat out ugly and it was unbelievable to see such an advantage evaporate so quickly.

The Lakers’ abysmal start in the fourth quarter gave Vogel no choice but to put LeBron James and Anthony Davis back into the game. When the former entered the game in the fourth, there was a noticeable scowl on his face. James knew what he had to do in the moment, but likely was not too thrilled the second string could not keep things in check.

While the Lakers came out on top, it was not a pretty win by any stretch of the imagination. The Lakers should not have needed any of their starters to play in the final stanza.

Davis addressed this issue following the game and noted that the team needs to do a better job of sustaining leads. Matt Peralta of Lakers Nation transcribed Davis’ thoughts on where the Lakers currently stand.

"“We gotta learn how to handle success within games. We were up big and we know teams are always going to fight back, but we gotta continue to play the right way no matter what the score is. And I think that’s the biggest lesson,” Davis said.“That’s kind of been our M.O. kind of all year. Coming out of halftime with big leads and teams cutting into our leads in the second half. We have to continue to build those leads or maintain the lead and not give it up so quickly.”"

Given the Lakers’ championship aspirations, they have to play more mercilessly than they did Wednesday evening. The fact that they nearly got upset by the Suns is inexcusable.

It was bad enough to see the Lakers missing shot after shot and a glaring lack of ball movement. However, what was worse was seeing the Suns get a lot of offensive rebounds. The Lakers got extremely lazy on defense and perhaps too complacent with what was once a large cushion.

It is nice that L.A. still got the win, but to know they easily could have let this one slip away is not good. If the Lakers somehow lost, that would have been deflating and embarrassing.

Unfortunately, last night’s game was not necessarily a first for the Lakers. As Peralta indicated, the Lakers have been adept when it comes to building big leads. Despite that, they are not the best with respect to maintaining the cushions they create.

It is somewhat worrisome that this has been a continued theme this year. Granted Los Angeles keeps winning games, getting too casual is not wise. The Lakers must keep their foot planted on the gas pedal from start to finish.

Moreover, having a second unit that Vogel can trust is crucial. Last night the Lakers failed in that regard and it allowed Phoenix to have some hope. Even the second unit should be able to deliver a knockout punch in the type of game Wednesday’s was.

It comes to show that the Lakers have some work to do. Offensive dry spells are never a joy to see, but significant lapses on “D” should never occur.

Thankfully, L.A. has generally been a robust team on defense this year. They have played much better than they did in the second half against the Suns.

Although that is true, it is safe to say LeBron and AD may need some extra help. They should have never needed to enter the game in the fourth.

Next. 3 New Year's resolutions for Anthony Davis. dark

Time will tell whether the Lakers make any additions to the roster. The best thing L.A. can do right now, though, is strive to play more complete games from tip off until the final buzzer.