The win not only moves the Lakers to a tie for seventh place in the standings, but also, gives them an important tiebreaker now over the Thunder.
Anthony Davis was spectacular, scoring 37 points and grabbing 14 boards, both team-highs on the night. Dennis Schröder stepped into starting lineup after D’Angelo Russell was ruled out prior to the game, and he responded. Schröder made key hustle plays, defended the point of attack and scored 21 points in his 37 minutes of play.
Lonnie Walker IV also deserves recognition. After being previously designated to the end of the bench, Walker was given an opportunity that he made the most of. He ended the night with 20 points, 15 coming in the second quarter alone.
The Lakers were sharp on both ends to start the game. Their defense deflected passes, flew across the court for contests and swarmed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on his drives. On offense, Anthony Davis came out blazing, making his first four shots from the field. He ended the frame with 15 points on 6-7 shooting.
As a team, the Lakers shot 46.2% from three and as the quarter came to a close, they were up by 16 and scored a season-high 41 points.
Strong stint from Lonnie Walker IV here, called in for duty with Russell sitting and another guard needed. He's 4 for 6 with a pair of 3's, helping LAL push its lead back to 16 with a personal 5-0 stretch early in the 2nd Q.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 25, 2023
Unfortunately, the Lakers’ defense suffered some significant slippage in the second quarter as the Thunder cut a once 17-point lead down to just eight heading into the half.
Then the third-quarter Lakers emerged. It was the Thunder who were going after every loose ball, receiving every favorable call and chipping away at the deficit.
Suddenly, the game became a tough-nosed 90s-era matchup with sloppy play and hustle from both teams.
A prime example of this was a wild sequence from Schröder where he dove for the ball, saved it, the Thunder got it back, Schröder regained the possession and was eventually fouled. Schröder’s effort didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but it represented the hustle and heart the guard brings to the team every night.
Schröder carried over that energy into a tight fourth quarter, where his scoring proved monumental. He scored the Lakers' first seven points and had 13 total in the final 12 minutes.
After a Schröder jumper and a Jarred Vanderbilt free throw, the Lakers had regained control with a five-point lead in the final minute. The Lakers’ defense then did just enough down the stretch to secure an important win.
The impact of this game can not be overstated. Beyond the standings perspective, winning this game when shorthanded again, speaks volumes of the team’s continued resiliency.
Now the Lakers end their homestand with a Sunday matinee against the Chicago Bulls. They are only a game and a half out of the sixth seed which was the team’s stated goal post All-Star break. If LeBron James can also return soon, perhaps that goal isn’t as farfetched as it once seemed.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.