NBA teams were 0-138 heading into Sunday's action when falling down by 27 points or more.
They are now 1-138. Why? Because the Lakers executed an epic, and monumentally critical, comeback against the Mavericks in Dallas, clawing back from a 27-point deficit to win 111-108. It was a game that featured huge performances from damn near everyone on the roster. Anthony Davis morphed back into MVP Anthony Davis in the second half, finishing with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Jarred Vanderbilt was everything everywhere all at once, with 15 points, 17 rebounds and four steals. LeBron James muscled through another foot injury to score some massive hoops down the stretch. Austin Reaves got scrappy, Malik Beasley hit a critical three -- it was the type of game that builds not only momentum in the standings, but serious belief in the locker room.
Can the Lakers turn this into something bigger in a Western Conference in which 10 -- TEN!!! -- teams have between 29 and 32 losses? The Big Mo might take a hit on Tuesday if LeBron and D'Angelo Russell are sidelined (and they might be) but overall, this team is clearly a much, much different beast than the one that took the floor for the first 50-something games of the year.
Vanderbilt showed how context can be critical, not just for the player himself and how he's used, but on how that usage/presence impacts the rest of the roster. In Utah, there were some complaints he wasn't utilized as effectively as he was in Minnesota. That the activity and energy didn't always translate to better results. But with the Lakers, what Vanderbilt replaces, and how he slots different players into better, more comfortable usage (particularly on defense) makes a world of difference EVEN IF Vanderbilt himself isn't perfect.
Context is everything!
And the Lakers couldn't have asked for a better time to get the return of that AD. Some of that energy he displayed can be attributed to Vanderbilt, too.
We'll see where this goes, but the Lakers clearly are on the move. If guys aren't out for too long, it's not crazy to start thinking more ambitiously about where they might finish in the West.
HOSTS: Andy and Brian Kamenetzky
SEGMENT 1: The Lakers score a massive comeback, critical psychologically and in the standings.
SEGMENT 2: Jarred. Vanderbilt. JARRED VANDERBILT!!!
SEGMENT 3: Davis comes up big when the Lakers needed him most.
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