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Anthony Davis scores 50 the ‘old-school’ way as Lakers beat Timberwolves

Lakers star Anthony Davis shoots over Minnesota’s Jordan Bell.
Lakers star Anthony Davis shoots over Minnesota’s Jordan Bell during the first half of the Lakers’ 142-125 victory Sunday at Staples Center.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

The rest of the Lakers did the math at halftime.

Anthony Davis already had 27 points, which meant he was on pace for more than 50 against a team the Lakers were struggling to put away. DeMarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley weren’t playing, so they had time to notice, and as soon as halftime came, they started hounding Davis about it. That continued as the second half began.

“My teammates kept giving me the ball and they were saying, ‘Go get 50,’” Davis said. “At that point, you try to go get 50.”

He did it. Davis reached a milestone Sunday evening as the Lakers tabbed another win to improve to 21-3. They beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team they just simply had to outscore, 142-125. Davis also had a block, four steals, six assists and seven rebounds, while making 20 of 29 shots and all 10 of his free throws.

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It was the fourth 50-point game of his career.

“The first thing that sticks out to me is that he has four steals, a block and great defense for all 39 minutes he was out there,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He played strong on that end of the floor and anchored us, and to still go for 50 in what I feel like is an old-school, smash-mouth way of getting 50 — no threes? Right? Twenty for 29, and then living at the free throw line, post-ups, offensive rebounds, crashes, all those types of things.

“Just an old-school performance and one for the ages.”

It was the fourth straight Lakers win in which Davis went head to head with a talented big man. Last week he faced Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Portland’s Hassan Whiteside. On Sunday, Davis faced Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished the game with 19 points, eight assists and four rebounds.

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“Going against another great big man in Karl-Anthony Towns and obviously you get up for some of those games,” Davis said. “And they’re a team who’s hungry, trying to get wins and when you start off pretty hot from the floor, you just want the ball and it kept going in.”

LeBron James scored 32 points with 13 assists and made six of eight three-pointers. But James was hampered a bit by early foul trouble. He picked up his fourth foul with 2:27 left in the second quarter, which relegated him to the bench until halftime.

“I’m not used to being in foul trouble,” James said. “But it’s great to have a team that can continue to keep up the pressure, the momentum.”

Highlights from the Lakers’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

Although the Lakers briefly lost their lead in the second quarter, they went on an 11-0 run to close the second quarter and led 73-65 at halftime.

Davis took to heart his teammates’ words. Many of them didn’t give him a choice. At basically every timeout in the second half, Cousins reminded him that 50 points was in range.

A game after scoring 39 points through three quarters, Davis had 40 through three. But on Friday the Lakers were handily beating Portland entering the fourth quarter. On Sunday, they led by only seven. They’d need Davis.

“Just keep feeding him,” James said. “He was efficient all night. Getting the ball exactly where he wanted it. Mid-post, low post, perimeter. He can do it all, so it’s our job to continue giving him the ball.”

NBA coaches are so tasked with managing the success and health of their players, they can let themselves fall victim to stress, lack of sleep and other health issues.

Davis missed a step-back jumper with 4:58 left in the game, and Rajon Rondo, who also was out with an injury, let him know he was one basket away.

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Then Davis drove to the basket, went left and shot a floater to reach a Lakers superstar milestone.

“It was very special,” Davis said.

“To do something like that in front of these great fans, with a historical franchise and my teammates, especially the way we’ve been playing, it was nothing but amazing.”


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