NBA

Davis labels Thunder clash as 'must win' for out-of-sorts Lakers

By Sports Desk December 22, 2023

Anthony Davis labelled Saturday's clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a "must win" for the skidding Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers lost for a fourth straight game as they went down 118-111 at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.

Their record since winning the NBA's inaugural in-season tournament is now 1-5.

And while there were green shoots of recovery against the Timberwolves, Davis knows the skid has to stop.

"It's the NBA season. There's going to be ups, there's going to be downs. Right now we're in that down period," said Davis, who finished with 31 points and eight rebounds.

"We've just got to continue to fight and continue to play hard. Play with some effort, some energy and we're treating Saturday as a must win.

"We've got to still buckle down and find ways to get wins.

"So after 30 [games], I think it's still tough to assess, but we know what we can be. We've shown what we can be. And we've shown that if we don't do the things we need to do to be successful then we're going to continue to be on this side of our record, which is losing."

The Lakers were without LeBron James, though the veteran is expected to be fit to face the Thunder, who are second in the Western Conference and beat the other Los Angeles team – the Clippers – on Thursday.

That snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Clippers, who lost 134-115.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points while Chet Holmgren nailed an innovative dunk off the backboard to propel the Thunder to a third straight win.

James Harden and Paul George chipped in with 23 points and 22 points respectively for the Clippers, who were without talisman Kawhi Leonard.

"Obviously, they’re a super talented group," Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Clippers. "A bunch Hall of Famers over there, and we knew what the task was waking up this morning."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged: "They did a good job of just attacking us.

"We couldn't get back, we couldn't get set, we couldn't get matched, and they took advantage of that early."

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