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Anthony Davis plays and Lakers overcome shaky start in blowout win over Hawks

Anthony Davis plays and Lakers overcome shaky start in blowout win over Hawks

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell is fouled by Atlanta Hawks forward Bruno Fernando, right, during the first half of the Lakers’ 136-105 win Monday at Crypto.com Arena. Russell finished with 27 points and 10 assists. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Anthony Davis didn't need 20/20 vision to see the Atlanta Hawks were trying to grab the Lakers’ attention.

“You don't want my view!” Austin Reaves would later say.

After the Lakers turned the ball over on the first play of the game, Hawks forward Jaylen Johnson turned the ensuing fast break into a highlight, jumping almost completely over Reaves — the rare occasion where the story begins with an exclamation point before anything is written.

The dunk, which for Reaves’ sake was overshadowed by Anthony Edwards during a different game in Utah, triggered an 11-2 start for Atlanta for a sudden wake-up call.

Read more: Shot-clock craziness and an Anthony Davis injury plague Lakers' loss to Warriors

“I think that might be the first time I've ever been really dunked on. So I made it a really long time without being very athletic, picking my spots to get out of the way. Tried to take a charge,” Reaves said grinning. “I don't know, super athletic kid and, you know, he got one. The longer I play the game, I'm sure it's gonna happen again. So ain't too worried about it.

“It was just kind of the whole sequence of that being the start and then them kind of having that run. I'm sitting there like, s—, that's what started it all.”

But with Davis back in the lineup after sustaining a scratched cornea Saturday, the Lakers (37-32) quickly found their rhythm, making sure Johnson’s highlight was an outlier in a game that was otherwise all Lakers.

All five starters finished with at least 12 points, all had big moments and all were able to spend most of the fourth quarter on the bench during a 136-105 win over Atlanta on Monday night at Crypto.com Arena to end a two-game skid.

Lakers star LeBron James reacts after scoring on a fast-break layup against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half Monday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I'm happy for our guys," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. "There was a lot of carryover on the defensive end. We talked about limiting offensive rebounds and doing a better job on the defensive glass. For the majority of the game, I thought we did a good job doing that. And then the ball movement. To end up with 39 assists is huge. If we continue that way, playing the right way, guys gonna make, gonna miss shots, but as long as we give them the opportunity to do so, and we make quick decisions, you'll have nights like this when you have six guys that end up being in double figures. So I thought it was a great night. A great, beneficial night on both sides of the ball.”

The Hawks (30-38), who beat the Clippers the night before, got 25 points from Johnson but never really challenged once the Lakers found their footing.

D'Angelo Russell scored 27 points and dished out 10 assists. His sixth three-pointer tied him with Nick Van Exel for the Lakers’ single-season record of 183 threes.

LeBron James and Davis both shot 10 for 14 from the field for 25 and 22 points, respectively. Rui Hachimura had 17 and Reaves found a highlight of his own, stealing an inbounds pass and finding James for a dunk with a no-look, behind-the-back pass.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves makes a midair pass in front of Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter in the first half. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Max Christie led the Lakers off the bench with 11 points.

For Davis, the game came after a scare on Saturday when he suffered a scratched cornea after being hit in the face by Golden State’s Trayce Jackson-Davis.

“I just couldn’t see. The corneal abrasion was actually right in the middle of my eye," Davis said. "It wasn’t like off to the side. So anytime I looked it was blurry. My eye was swollen. I thought my eye was like, open. But it wasn’t. It kept watering. It just felt like sand was in my eye.

"So it was just better closed and I couldn’t really see. So, I’ve just been icing it, like Saturday after the third quarter and it got better later that night. The swelling went down. I just kind of stayed in darkness. And then went to go see the doctor on Sunday morning and some more things that we ended up finding out. But it was really tough for me to see.”

He didn’t have to squint to see what his team looked like against the Hawks.

Lakers star Anthony Davis dunks off an offensive rebound in front of Atlanta Hawks guard Vit Krejci on Monday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“I went to the eye doctor and I think it’s good. I’m still 20/15, so I feel good about that,” he said.

Davis’ return came as the Lakers got bad news regarding their frontcourt depth.

Reserve big man Christian Wood, who has not played the last 13 games, is set to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out multiple weeks, according to a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly.

Wood has been out because of knee swelling since the All-Star break. The team is expected to give an official update on him soon. At shootaround on Monday, injured forward Jarred Vanderbilt did some spot shooting drills on the court while Ham and general manager Rob Pelinka watched.

“He's coming along according to plan,” Ham said before the game. "Gabe's (Vincent) coming along according to plan. We should be getting Cam (Reddish) back pretty soon here. So as we start to get those guys back and what they bring to our basketball team, just the intangibles.

"People talk about making shots and, obviously, you have to get stops, but those guys' ability to get us extra possessions — whether it's steals, deflections that turn into turnovers — their ability to get offensive rebounds and secure defensive rebounds is much needed. That'll be a welcomed addition to get those guys back healthy."

The Lakers don’t play again until Friday, when they host the Philadelphia 76ers.

“We'll get a chance to tighten up some things offensively. Tighten up some things defensively," Ham said. "There's a couple of new wrinkles we want to do on both sides of the ball and we'll get a chance to look at. And then, watch a little film and see how we can be the best version of ourselves. But just take it one day at a time, starting with the day off. Everyone getting off their feet. Hopefully spending time with their families and getting away from it for a little bit. But then, once we strike back up on Wednesday, knowing that we have to be better.

“No matter what's happening around the league, or around the positioning with our team, if we don't, again, try to be the best version of ourselves and take care of our own business, nothing else will matter.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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