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Anthony Davis and Lakers outlast Wizards for back-to-back wins

Lakers star Anthony Davis chases a loose ball in front of Washington forward Corey Kispert.
Lakers star Anthony Davis chases a loose ball in front of Washington forward Corey Kispert during the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 134-131 overtime win Thursday at Crypto.com Arena.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
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The crowd cheered unusually loud, at least relative to how it normally sounds for successful free throws in the second quarter.

But this particular free throw from Anthony Davis with 2:49 left in the first half earned a semi-sarcastic roar. The Lakers had tied the score, ending a healthy stretch where they trailed the Washington Wizards, one of the NBA’s worst teams, in a half-hearted effort.

The crowd went silent much later Thursday night after another free throw, this one from Washington’s Tyus Jones, tied the score in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. And it sighed with relief when Washington‘s Jordan Poole’s potential game-winner rocketed off the backboard to send the game to overtime.

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The Lakers may not have the roster to win another championship, but they have a trump card that can deliver them a victory, as they showed against the Clippers.

Feb. 29, 2024

The eruption didn’t come until even later, when LeBron James saved a basket with a chase-down block and followed it with a swished three-pointer — the biggest plays of a 134-131 win.

“I was taught at a young age when you turn the ball over you need to sprint back. And me and AD had a miscommunication on that read and I threw the pocket pass before he opened up to see the ball,” James said. “And once I saw Tyus Jones kind of throw it, I tried to see if I could get back and tried to make a play. Obviously it was a big play in the game and I was happy I was able to chase it down.”

Wizards forward Marvin Bagley III blocks a shot by Lakers star LeBron James during the fourth quarter Thursday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Davis led the Lakers with 40 points and 15 rebounds. James finished with 31, leaving him nine shy of 40,000 career regular-season points. He’ll probably pass that mark Saturday in a marquee game with Denver.

Following an emotional comeback win Wednesday against the Clippers, the Lakers never really found a consistent level of intensity until the second half.

“We’ll go back, look at some of this, try to learn from it, grow from it. Again, like I mentioned, it’s just human nature,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “It’s a tough game in terms of scheduling.”

They built an eight-point lead, but big plays from former Laker Kyle Kuzma and Poole threatened to cancel any good vibes the Lakers had built the game before. But Austin Reaves’ driving basket with 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter was followed by Poole’s miss with less than two seconds left and sent the game to overtime.

“It doesn’t matter the record of the team that you’re playing or whatever the case may be,” James said. “In this league, it’s hard as heck to win and it’s hard as heck to win in this league and we’ve had our fair share of losses this year. And we’re trying just to right that ship, try to get better and no matter the circumstances, we’re just trying to find a way to win.”

James made the huge plays that put the Lakers in position to win.

The Wizards had one final chance to extend the game, but Kuzma missed a potential tying three-pointer with 7.9 seconds left and the Lakers tapped the rebound away and dribbled out the clock.

“Yeah, I think it’s hard to win, obviously. I think we’re more excited about getting that win in an ugly fashion than losing that in any type of fashion,” D’Angelo Russell said. “So got it, grinded it. Obviously, guys a little fatigued, including myself, in the back-to-back, things like that. It’s huge for us to get this one.”

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The win is the first of a stretch where the Lakers play 10 of their next 11 games at home.

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