Anthony Davis sat in the chair at his locker with both knees and his left elbow wrapped in ice and a black towel draped over his shoulders, a look of satisfaction on his face.
Foul trouble in the first half stopped him from participating as much as he wanted in the showdown between Davis’ Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.
Davis, though, was a force in the second half, his offense on point, his defense stellar and his determination a factor in the Lakers’ 113-103 victory over the Bucks.
Davis produced 25 of his 30 points in the second half, when he had eight of his nine rebounds. He went from a minus-four in the first half to a plus-12 in the second half that netted him a total plus-eight in plus-minus department.
And for Davis, “being on the floor” made the difference for him and the Lakers.
“As much as I’m on the floor, I’m able to find a rhythm and be in the flow of the game and I was able to do that and make a couple of shots and get a block defensively and just talk to these guys,” Davis said. “They did a good job of getting me the ball and they just told me to be aggressive.”
Davis was at his best when the game hung in the balance in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking oneshot.
Davis took control when LeBron James took a rest with 7:15 left in the fourth,
He scored on a power move in the post, drilled a 13-foot jumper and then raced back on defense to block a three-point attempt by Khris Middleton.
Davis made both free throws for a six-point Lakers cushion.
“I know he had four fouls and I just tried to be aggressive,” Davis said. “I finally got a chance to play. I was in foul trouble, so I just wanted to make sure that I kind of be ultra-aggressive since I sat out basically the whole first half and was able to get some buckets in the third.”
Davis had two fouls in the first quarter and then picked up his third in the second, limiting him to just nine minutes and 53 seconds of playing time in the first half.
But Davis stood tall in the second half.
“I just think his first half was disjointed from the foul trouble,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “You get a little hesitant from the offensive foul and you’re thinking about the defensive end. I just think he got into a rhythm. These guys have a good feel for picking up the slack. LeBron carries the load for a little bit, and either he fatigues or he comes out of the game, and it’s time to go through Anthony. We played through the post, and he did score in the post a few times. … Obviously with what he does on the defensive end, an incredible two-way performance by him as well.”