Advertisement
Share

Column: Anthony Davis puts forth the effort Lakers need in win over Spurs. Will it continue?

Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives for a layup against the Spurs.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives for a layup against the Spurs on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

The chant started in the back of the arena as Anthony Davis prepared to take the first of two free throws to seal the Lakers’ 114-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

“M-V-P!”

The chorus spread to the more expensive seats at Staples Center as Davis was about to attempt the second shot.

“M-V-P!”

Davis certainly looked the part Sunday.

He looked like the player the Lakers need him to be in LeBron James’ absence. He looked like the player they will need him to be when James returns. He looked like the player they will need him to be if they are to have any chance of doing anything special this season.

Advertisement

Anthony Davis had 34 points, 15 rebounds and six assists to lead the Lakers to a 114-106 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon.

“Anthony wanted to impose his will on this game,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

Davis did that with a series of violent dunks.

On a pass he threw off the glass to himself. On the rebound of a contested layup he missed. On an alley-oop pass from Talen Horton-Tucker. On a backdoor pass he received from Malik Monk.

This was leadership. This was accountability. This was Davis scoring 19 first-quarter points two days after a disastrous loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I just wanted to come back and just try to dominate the game, do what I can to get the team going,” Davis said.

More important, this was Davis recognizing efforts like this were necessary every game.

“I have to bring that energy every night,” he said. “I try to bring energy, let the guys feed off of me. When I’m playing that way, with a lot of energy, guys usually feed off of me and do the same thing. So, it’s my job as a leader to bring that energy and let guys know the type of pace and flow that we’re going to play with.”

With the Lakers making a concerted effort to play through him, Davis finished with 34 points on 14-for-24 shooting.

With the Spurs often double-teaming him in the second half, Davis registered six assists.

He also had a game-high 15 rebounds.

“That’s what we talked about, just resetting our focus to get him the ball in the post,” Vogel said.

Davis’ performance camouflaged the shortcomings of an unbalanced Lakers team that permitted a downtrodden version of the Spurs to reduce what was once a 14-point lead to two with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Russell Westbrook committed seven more turnovers. Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo were nonfactors on offense. Carmelo Anthony, who started for the first time, remained a defensive liability.

But elevating a group like this is what an MVP-caliber player is expected to do.

Davis embraced the responsibility and Vogel gave it to him, spreading the court for him with the smaller lineup.

Nine of the 12 shots Davis made in the first half were in the paint.

“The lob threat is there,” Davis said. “Even when we’re big, the lob threat is there. But we have four shooters around a dynamic roller who created a crowd and draws attention. So, now, if guys help, we kick it out to our shooters.”

With the Lakers ahead by four points with less than two minutes to play, Davis drew a double team in the post and threw the ball out to Anthony, who sank a three.

On the next possession, a cutting Davis soared to catch a pass from Horton-Tucker under the basket. Before landing, he dished the ball to Westbrook, who converted a layup to make the score 112-103.

The Lakers need more of this, regardless of when James returns.

They concluded what was supposed to be the easy part of their schedule with an 8-6 record, with 11 of those games at home. They are now entering a more difficult phase of their season.

They host the much-improved Chicago Bulls on Monday night before embarking on what could be the five-game trip from hell — or to hell — that includes stops in Milwaukee, Boston and New York.

Vogel remarked how Davis’ mindset Sunday appeared to be the byproduct of his displeasure with the loss against the Timberwolves. Yet dropping a game to a lottery-bound team shouldn’t be required for Davis to play at this level.

He should be the best two-way player in the NBA. He should be living up to the chants that echoed through Staples Center on Sunday.


Advertisement