Anthony Davis' dunk wasn't the only impressive feat in Lakers' win over Thunder

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis celebrates after scoring during.

Anthony Davis rolled into the paint, gathered his footing and launched toward the rim, ignoring the noodle-limbed rookie in front of him.

It’s desperate times for the Lakers. Well, desperate enough that a Monday night game in mid-January feels like a chance to make some sort of statement — and with the Arena crowd ready for a moment, Davis gave them one.

He rose, cocked the ball behind his head with both hands and slammed on 7-foot-1 Chet Holmgren.

“I’ve never seen that,” D’Angelo Russell said.

Stars performing like stars hasn’t been an issue for the Lakers, save for a so-so triple-double from Davis against the Jazz. The issues have been with the team as a unit, a group that has played more like individuals than one operating with cohesion.

Read more: With LeBron James out, Anthony Davis blames himself for Lakers' loss to Jazz

But against Oklahoma City, it was Russell who slipped Davis the pass. It was Austin Reaves cutting and scoring, Davis working out of double teams, LeBron James attacking mismatches and Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Christian Wood all making big plays off the bench.

The Lakers beat the second-place Thunder 112-105 with strong team basketball, Davis’ slam an individual highlight when the best sequences were more collaborative.

Davis finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds and James had 25, seven rebounds and six assists, but four others scored at least 11. The Lakers had 30 assists on 44 successful shots. And after he scored 20 in the first three quarters, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could only score four points in the fourth.

“I think our ball movement, our pace is very key,” James said. “We try not to play late into the clock, give ourselves an opportunity to get really good looks. I think when we don't turn the ball over — I know we had some late ones, some ones that were unforced, but when we have high-assist games when guys are feeling in rhythm, that's a pretty good game for us.”

Rui Hachimura defends at the net.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Vasilije Micic tries to shoot as Lakers forward Rui Hachimura defends during the first half Monday. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The win came with the Lakers, again, changing their starting five, coach Darvin Ham going back to the season-opening lineup of Russell, Reaves and Taurean Prince alongside James and Davis.

“Just wanted to put as much skill and shotmaking on the floor around our two captains," Ham said about why he made the change. "And those five, they've been pretty much our most consistent guys throughout the season thus far. So just put them together. And like I said, for the foreseeable future, that's gonna be our lineup barring any type of injury. And I thought it went well. It was a hell of a night.”

The Lakers haven't shown they're capable of achieving more than the occasional big moment. On Monday, they barreled into trade season with the bulk of their players officially eligible to be dealt away.

A move could be imminent — general manager Rob Pelinka usually is active at the trade deadline. And with the team a year removed from deadline deals that made a significant impact, it’s fair to wonder if the front office can do it again.

Read more: Elliott: For Lakers, brutal loss to Suns magnifies bigger issues that don't have an easy fix

Vanderbilt, one of the players the Lakers acquired at the deadline last season, said he thought the team could create its own sort of reshuffling.

“I mean, with us, it's difficult because people are in and out of the lineup due to injury or whatever. So it's tough to still try to build that camaraderie within ourselves,” he said after Monday’s shootaround. “But I mean, that's part of the season. It's tough. Like I said, we changed lineups so much. It's tough to try to get that consistent continuity. But I do believe we are capable of doing it internally."

After losing to Phoenix and Utah in their last two games, the Lakers looked like a team ready to win Monday.

James, who didn’t play in Utah, had more thrust on the defensive end and in transition, settling less for shots on the perimeter. Both of his three-point attempts came in rhythm off ball movement.

And three steals by Vanderbilt gave the Lakers sparks of energy that ignited their second-half run.

Much like the Lakers' wins over the Clippers and Raptors last week, Monday's game functioned a little as a proof of concept. The roster can overcome mistakes — turnovers and offensive rebounds allowed being at the top of that list. But the Lakers have shown they're capable of regression, another test coming Wednesday against Dallas.

With this Lakers team, everything has been moment to moment.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.