No LeBron, no problem ... eventually. Takeaways from the Lakers' win over Sacramento

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Sacramento Kings center Alex Len guards Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)
Lakers' Anthony Davis (3) tries to get past Sacramento's Alex Len during the Lakers' 117-92 win over the Kings on Tuesday night in Sacramento. (Randall Benton / Associated Press)

Anthony Davis spoke with LeBron James upon learning that the leader of the Lakers had entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and returned home Tuesday before the Lakers played the Kings that night.

“He’s good. I think he’s asymptomatic, which is a good sign, but we want to make sure that he gets back,” Davis said after the Lakers' 117-92 victory over the Kings. “Health is most important. This is bigger than basketball. He has a family. We want to make sure that he’s good no matter what.”

Davis also told reporters of a different conversation that took place that night. It occurred among the players and their coach at halftime, at which point the Lakers trailed the Kings by nine points.

Davis said it was “about the team that we want to be.”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel jumped all over his team during the intermission. The Lakers were down by as many as 14 points in the first half, playing with no energy and not the right effort.

“Coach was pretty upset,” Dwight Howard said. “But I think his whole point was stop talking about winning a championship and not giving the correct effort. And he’s right. He was spot-on. You can’t [just] keep saying we want to win. We want to accomplish these different things [but can't] if we’re not willing to put in the work and the effort and to play together.

"I think that in the second half we did that. I think that was the best, one of the best third quarters we’ve had all year. It was because of the energy. The energy was all in the right place.”

Here are four takeaways from the Lakers’ victory over the Kings.

1. Russell Westbrook knew his first-half play left a lot to be desired. The talk from Vogel just reenforced how Westbrook himself felt about his game.

He was three of nine from the field, had four turnovers and was as minus-eight in the plus-minus department.

“Honestly, for me personally, I already knew I was playing [bad], so I knew I had to step it up anyway in order for us to have a chance to be able to win the game,” Westbrook said. “So, that’s why it’s two halves in this game.”

Indeed, Westbrook and the Lakers were both better in the second half.

Westbrook had 15 points in the second half. He was six of 12 from the field, had zero turnovers and was a plus-20.

Lakers' Dwight Howard puts up a shot as Sacramento Kings forward Chimezie Metu defends.
Lakers' Dwight Howard puts up a shot as Sacramento Kings forward Chimezie Metu defends. (Randall Benton / Associated Press)

2. Before the game, Howard was told by Vogel that he wasn’t going to use him.

It turned out that Howard played a season-high 35 minutes and 4 seconds. He started the second half in place of DeAndre Jordan, playing 22:47.

Howard was a force, too, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

“I was pretty down when I got the news that I wasn’t going to play. But I just told myself to stay ready,” Howard said. “You never know what could happen in the game,m and instead of allowing that news to alter my energy and effort, I just tried to pick it up. If I got a chance to play tonight, I told myself I was just going to do whatever it takes to stay on the floor.

"Coach gave me some good minutes tonight and I was able to just really try to do whatever I can to help the team win and we got a good win. So, I’m just thankful just for that opportunity to play.”

3. Malik Monk got his shooting stroke going and that opened the door for Westbrook and Davis to operate even more.

Monk had 22 points on eight-of-16 shooting, six-of-10 from three-point range.

4. The Lakers were dominant on defense in the second half.

They held the Kings to 33 points on 28.6% shooting. The Kings missed all 11 of their three-pointers in the second half.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.