Early on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers got the bad news that Anthony Davis is expected to miss at least one month with a foot injury he sustained on Friday versus the Denver Nuggets.
Without him, the Lakers took on the Washington Wizards needing an all-hands-on-deck mindset.
They had multiple players step up offensively, which is exactly what they need while Davis is out. They built a 14-point lead at halftime, but unfortunately, their defense fell apart in the second half, as they allowed the Wizards to take a brief lead late in the fourth quarter.
With 23.1 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 117, LeBron James was working down the clock when former Laker Kyle Kuzma knocked the ball away. James recovered it, and in the ensuing scramble, he found Thomas Bryant underneath for the dunk that resulted in a 119-117 win.
The win wasn’t a work of art, but it was important in terms of stabilizing the team in the wake of Davis’ latest injury.
LeBron James: A
James has been rounding into shape lately very nicely after an uneven start to the season. He went 13-of-24 on Sunday and scored 33 points, to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds.
Just prior to his game-winning assist, James drove the middle and threw down a nasty dunk with 27.1 seconds left to give L.A. a 117-115 lead.
It will be important for the team to manage James’ workload while Davis is out. He played 37 minutes on Sunday, and it would be helpful if the Lakers get him down to about 32-35 minutes a game instead of the 36.2 minutes a game he was averaging coming into this contest.
Thomas Bryant: A
Bryant got the start in place of Davis, and for the second straight game, he responded big time. He made 7-of-13 from the field, which included several dunks while grabbing 10 rebounds.
The former Wizards center also hit both of his 3-point attempts, which is an area of his area he hasn’t shown much of so far this season. While with the Wizards, he shot over 40 percent from downtown in back-to-back seasons.
Dennis Schroder: B-
Schroder looked to step up offensively in Davis’ absence. He took 12 shots, which was nearly a season-high, but unfortunately, he made just four of those shot attempts.
But the German native helped the Lakers most by getting seven assists while committing only one turnover in 30 minutes.
Austin Reaves: B+
Reaves went 4-of-5 from the field and made both of his 3-point attempts to finish with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot. His hustle is evident, as he drew a charge at one point, something which is seemingly turning into a consistent event for him.
He appeared to injure his ankle in the third quarter, and he exited the game and headed to the locker room. Reaves returned in the fourth period, but quickly exited, as head coach Darvin Ham said the guard had a limp and he therefore didn’t want to take any chances.
But Reaves came back shortly afterward, and he made back-to-back runners in the lane in the final two minutes to ensure victory.
Lonnie Walker IV: A
Walker certainly did his part with Davis sidelined. He scored 21 points on 7-of-12 overall and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, and he also drew fouls and capitalized by hitting all five of his free throws.
Davis’ injury will be an opportunity for Walker to step up and perhaps play the best ball of his life, especially offensively.
Troy Brown Jr.: D+
Brown took only two shots, missing both of them, and contributed two rebounds in 10 minutes.
Damian Jones: B/B+
Jones gave L.A. a boost offensively by rolling to the hoop time and time again for multiple dunks off lob passes from teammates. He was 4-of-6 from the field for eight points plus one steal and one block.
The Lakers will need more rebounding from Jones, however, as he got just two boards in 17 minutes versus Washington.
Russell Westbrook: B-
Westbrook was 4-of-12 from the field and scored just nine points. The Lakers not only need more scoring from Westbrook while Davis is out, but they need him to score efficiently, something he hasn’t been doing.
But Westbrook definitely helped them by grabbing nine rebounds and dishing off eight assists. He even had a blocked shot late in the first quarter when he rejected a 3-point attempt by Corey Kispert.
Max Christie: A
The rookie guard has been gradually showing that he can definitely contribute. He went 2-of-5 from downtown on Sunday, and he is starting to establish himself as an outside shooting threat, which is in stark contrast to the struggles he had with his perimeter shot during summer league play.
Christie also had four rebounds and one blocked shot in 24 minutes. If he continues to develop on the defensive end and learns certain tricks as far as how to take things away from the man he is trying to guard, he can earn himself a permanent spot in the Lakers’ rotation.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire