Davis showing off defense as Lakers host Knicks

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It isn’t a secret Anthony Davis desires to be Defensive Player of the Year. He’s said as much and is making a solid case for it as he and the Los Angeles Lakers approach the midway point of their regular-season schedule.

Davis had eight of the Lakers’ 20 blocks, one shy of the franchise record, in a 106-99 victory Sunday over the pesky Detroit Pistons. He also scored 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and recorded three steals as the Lakers claimed their fifth consecutive victory.

Davis and the Lakers look to extend their streak when they host the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

JaVale McGee had six blocks to go along with nine points, including his fourth career 3-pointer, while Dwight Howard rejected five shots. Howard also contributed 11 points and nine boards, five on the offensive end.

“Just protecting the paint. The last game we gave up 60-plus points in the paint, something we don’t like doing and we tried to make an emphasis tonight on protecting the paint,” Davis told reporters after the game. Davis was third in the NBA at 2.59 blocks per game through Sunday’s games.

“I think our guards did a good job of not fouling, having their guards go to the rim and use their verticality and our bigs come over and block a shot. … We want to protect the paint as much as possible and if teams are going to beat us make sure they beat us from the outside, not the inside,” he added.

The franchise record was set against the Denver Nuggets on April 9, 1982.

LeBron James, who was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, recorded his ninth triple-double, with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists against New York. James, who has seven straight games with at least 10 assists, is averaging a league-high and career-best 11 assists per contest.

The Lakers lost guard Avery Bradley with a right ankle sprain during the game. He is listed as day-to-day.

New York will try to end Los Angeles’ 20-0 mark against teams below .500 this season. The Knicks dropped a 135-132 decision to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Marcus Morris Sr. scored 38 points on 6-of-7 3-pointers and 13 of 19 shots overall.

Rookie RJ Barrett had 24 points and former Laker Julius Randle added 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Knicks started strong, jumping to a 45-29 after one quarter before allowing the Clippers to reverse their fortunes with a 47-24 run in the second quarter and a 76-69 lead at the half.

New York made a run late but was unable to overcome some crucial Los Angeles buckets.

“The biggest thing that comes to mind that I love is the effort, the fight, the scrap,” said Knicks interim coach Mike Miller, according to the New York Post. “That’s a high-level team and that’s one of the wilder games I’ve been a part of. The effort and the grit we showed in staying in that game and putting ourselves in position to win — I’m proud of this group.”

The Knicks lost despite shooting 57.1 percent from the floor.

–Field Level Media

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