Anthony Davis-LeBron James a winning ticket for Lakers against 76ers
Anthony Davis sat on the bench with a little more than a minute left in the Lakers’ contest against the Philadelphia 76ers, having left to a standing ovation. But he didn’t stay on the bench for long. He got up, stretched his arms and watched as his teammates finished a game he had put away. He’d earned the break.
He’d done everything Tuesday night, from electrifying dunks to stellar three-point shooting — four for five on the night.
Davis scored 37 points in the Lakers’ 120-107 win over the 76ers, who were missing three starters including stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, knocking down further a team once thought to be an NBA Finals contender. As he has often this year, Davis showed why the Lakers so coveted him.
“It’s everything I expected and more,” LeBron James said of playing with Davis. “Obviously that’s why I wanted him here. When you get a generational talent like that and you got an opportunity to get him, you just try to do whatever you can to get him.”
Davis added 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. James had 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.
With their gaze fixed fully on the playoffs for months, the Clippers have been guilty of appearing disinterested at times during the regular season.
“He scores in a variety of ways,” Coach Frank Vogel said of Davis. “He’s a threat in a variety of ways. We are continuing to wind him up from the three-point line to be aggressive in those situations. … We can have our cake and eat it too, so to speak. We have the offensive spacing and we have the defensive length that we need to reach our highest level.”
Glenn Robinson III led the 76ers with 25 points off the bench.
Philadelphia (37-25) entered Tuesday night tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference and fell to sixth, a half-game behind Indiana. The Lakers, meanwhile, strengthened their position atop the West, improving to 47-13.
The Lakers gave up 35 points in the first quarter, just as they did in a 108-91 loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 25. Davis scored eight points in the period, James scored five and the 76ers got eight points out of Tobias Harris.
The 76ers extended their lead to 13 in the second quarter on a three-pointer by Robinson.
From there the Lakers turned the game around. And it was because of Davis.
“That little stretch we had in the second quarter, that flip of the switch, I’ve never ... I haven’t seen him like that all year,” teammate Avery Bradley said. “He was fired up.”
Davis scored 18 points in the final eight minutes of the half, burying Philadelphia in an avalanche of dunks.
He also made both three-pointers he attempted in that period. Afterward, the 76ers weren’t taking any chances. Vogel recalled a defender seeing Davis prepare to shoot from outside and racing toward him to stop it. It just opened the lane for another dunk by Davis.
“Over the last month and a half, I feel very confident with it,” Davis said. “No hesitation in shooting it. Coach said it opens up the floor for me, opens up the floor for the team, space where teams are not helping as much. When I’m not able to knock down a couple, I’m able to show the pump fake and drive and get a layup or a pass for my team.”
Davis also had two steals in the second quarter and a plus-minus rating of 24. In all, the Lakers scored 37 points in the quarter.
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With an 11-point lead, the Lakers opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run, including a deep three from James as he pulled up at the edge of the Lakers logo covering center court — officially 36 feet away from the basket. Davis, Danny Green and JaVale McGee walked to the spot on the floor from which James released his shot and leaned over as if to examine it.
“That was funny,” James said after he saw a video of it following the game.
Davis said it was his favorite play of the game.
During the fourth quarter, Philadelphia’s Shake Milton tried to pass the ball and James grabbed it out of the air, ran down the court and electrified the Staples Center crowd with a dunk.
The Lakers entered the game with a talent advantage and overpowered the 76ers. In the process, they got yet another glimpse of what Davis is like at his best.
“I think you’ve seen a little bit of a different Anthony Davis this whole season than we’ve seen in his prior stop in New Orleans,” Vogel said. “I don’t know if it’s different today than it’s been most of the season. Ultimately, I think we’re gonna see it when we get to the playoffs.”
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