The Lakers have three more players with retired jerseys than Oklahoma City had available Monday night. The Thunder were that short-handed.
But minus Anthony Davis and heavy-legged from two overtimes in their last game, the Lakers had to fight their way through a 119-112 overtime win against the eight-man Thunder on a night when almost nothing, Oklahoma City included, would fall easily.
The Lakers clanked shot after shot off the rim, the team missing 29 of its 38 tries from three-point territory, but Wesley Matthews scored 16 points off the bench, LeBron James had a triple-double with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists, and Montrezl Harrell added 21 points, helping save their team from a loss.
The Lakers (19-6) finally pulled away in overtime behind their superior depth, with James, Matthews, Dennis Schroder and Harrell all making big plays down the stretch to help the team win its fifth straight.
The Lakers overcame a five-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to take a three-point lead late, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fouled Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a three-point try in the final seconds and the former Clipper hit all three free throws to force overtime.
The Thunder (10-13), though, scored only two points in overtime.
The hope, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, is the team could get Davis back for Wednesday night’s rematch against Oklahoma City.
Davis underwent tests on his sore Achilles tendon Sunday after aggravating it early in the Lakers’ double-overtime win over the Detroit Pistons the night before. The tests came back clean, but there was still some soreness, so the Lakers held him out.
Even though he has been banged up, missing four games this season, there really haven’t been concerns about Davis through the season’s first third, even if his play has slightly regressed from his first year with the Lakers.
Davis is averaging fewer points and rebounds than he did last season, his free-throw percentage is a career worst, and he’s getting to the line the fewest times since his rookie season.
“I think it can break your rhythm a little bit when you’re trying to get going and trying to ramp up after an unconventional offseason,” Vogel said. “But it’s just the nature of an 82- or 72-game season. You’re going to get banged up from time to time.”
Davis is scoring 22.3points per game this season. Each of his previous three absences was either on the first or second night of a back-to-back.
In the preseason, Davis flashed potential to be a more consistent threat from three-point range. Last season in the playoffs, he made 38.3% on nearly three attempts from deep per game, and Vogel and the Lakers talked about Davis doubling that number.
Davis hit a big corner three late in the Lakers’ win Saturday against Detroit, but he dribbled out of a handful of other possible attempts, looking like a player with wavering confidence in that part of his game.
In the first seven games this season, Davis had three games in which he made at least three three-pointers.In his 14 games since, he hasn’t done it once. He’s shooting 31.5% on three-point tries for the season.
And after shooting 23.7% on Monday, the Lakers could use another player on the perimeter making shots.
“I’m confident,” Davis said Saturday when asked about his three-point shooting. “The team gets on me and the players get on me about shooting them, especially when I’m open. But I just try to make the right play.”
Vogel, who advocated for Davis to increase the number of attempts he takes from three, still believes Davis is confident from beyond the arc.
But mostly, the Lakers just want Davis and his Achilles tendon healthy.
“Hopefully,” Vogel said, “he feels better tomorrow and is ready to go on Wednesday.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.