The Los Angeles Lakers’ trio of big men, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee, had a night to remember on the defensive end in their team’s win over the Detroit Pistons.
The Lakers racked up 20 blocks as they held on for a 106-99 win, their fifth successive victory. Davis led the way with eight rejections.
After Howard blocked Andre Drummond’s shot with a perfect combination of timing and athleticism, he wagged a Dikembe Mutombo-style finger at the uproarious Staples Center crowd.
The rest of the Lakers took off on a fast break that left them with a double-digit lead over Detroit in the fourth quarter.
Although that lead vanished and the game got a lot tighter, the Lakers’ historically huge block party propelled them to another win.
By the time the Lakers’ three big men were done swatting almost everything they could get their hands on, the Lakers had blocked more shots than any NBA team since March 2001.
“We were just protecting the paint,” said Davis, who finished two blocks shy of his career-high.
“Last game (against New Orleans), we gave up 60-something points in the paint. It’s something we don’t like doing, and we tried to make an emphasis tonight on protecting the paint.”
That is an understatement: McGee blocked six shots and Howard had four of his five blocks in the fourth quarter as the Lakers finished one blocked shot short of their franchise record. Los Angeles had 21 blocks against Denver in April 1982.
Howard swatted Drummond twice in the final quarter, and he didn’t regret playing to the fans.
“I was just in the moment, trying to get the crowd going,” said Howard, who added 11 points and nine rebounds. “Detroit had hit some big shots, and we needed a lift. AD, he inspired me to want to go out there and try to get as many as I can.”
Davis scored 11 of his 24 points in the final 3:40 and added 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who blew a late 11-point lead and nearly lost to a team with a losing record for the first time all season.
Instead, Alex Caruso scored 13 points while they hung on to remain unbeaten since Christmas.
“Our three big guys just played exceptional basketball,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Those guys took a lot of pride in protecting our rim tonight.”
LeBron James finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his 90th career triple-double, his ninth of the season and his second in five days.
Derrick Rose scored 28 points and former Lakers guard Svi Mykhailiuk had 14 – one off his career-high – for the Pistons, who have lost nine of 11 despite a strong effort against the Western Conference leaders.
“There is a reason they are the No 1 team in the league blocking shots,” Rose said. “They’ve got great length, but it’s not going to change the way we play our game. We’ve got a chance to learn from our mistakes.”