Anthony Davis has been heating up
By: Isabel Gomez
After a less-than-ideal performance during Game 1, Anthony Davis bounced back and helped the Lakers go 1-1 in Phoenix. The Lakers got the split on the road and will now play their first playoff game at Staples Center since 2013.
Davis couldn’t quite get his rhythm going on Sunday and took the blame for the Lakers losing the first game of the series.
“There’s no way we are winning a game, let alone the series, with me playing the way I played. This one is on me,” Davis said after struggling to get 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
LeBron James heard what his teammate said and accurately predicted what would happen in Game 2.
“Any time he comes to the press room and tells you we can’t win without him or with him playing the way he played, he always responds. I’m looking forward to that,” James said.
He definitely responded. Davis redeemed himself on Tuesday by leading the Lakers to a 109-103 victory with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
The power forward/center said he felt the biggest difference was just coming out with more energy and playing more aggressively. He made 18 free throws on 21 attempts, which were both career playoff highs for him.
The Lakers were up by as many as 15 points during the game, but the fourth quarter was a competitive one. A dunk by Deandre Ayton gave the Suns an 88-86 advantage with 6:15 on the clock. The game stayed pretty tight until Davis blocked an Ayton hook shot with 3:15 remaining. The Lakers held a one-point lead at that time (93-92), but then Davis and LeBron James, described by head coach Frank Vogel as “two of the top five players in the NBA,” used that as momentum to go on a 7-0 run.
Vogel said that James, who finished the night with 23 points, is an all-time great and consistently shows it. He also praised Davis for showing “great assertiveness” in how he responded on Tuesday.
“He does it in so many ways,” Vogel said of Davis. “He didn’t settle much for the jump shot. He really ran the floor. Rolled hard. Drove the ball hard, and had the intent to attack the paint with or without the basketball.”
There is no question that both stars performing well will be crucial for the Lakers to go all the way. During the regular season, both of them suffered injuries and were out for a significant amount of games. They’re looking healthier now, but injuries are still part of the storyline for this postseason series.
James played more minutes than Vogel originally wanted him to on Tuesday when Davis found himself in foul trouble early in the game. However, James looked comfortable out there. It’s actually the Suns who have more to worry about.
Chris Paul only played 23 minutes on Tuesday while clearly struggling with a shoulder injury he suffered in Game 1. The Phoenix guard is listed as probably for Thursday’s game. If his minutes are limited, Cameron Payne will likely see more time in the point guard position.
Devin Booker and Ayton are currently the two top scorers for the Suns during the postseason. In two games, Booker is averaging 32.5 points and Ayton is seeing 21.5 points while making 87.5% of his shots. The Lakers ended the regular season with the league’s No. 1-ranked defense, so they should have enough power to stop them.
The Los Angeles team will likely use the purple and gold fans as extra motivation, especially since it will be their first playoff game in LA in eight years.
“It’s going to be pretty special for our fans,” James said. “That’s what I came here for to be able to play a playoff game in front of the Lakers faithful.”
Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday at 7pm PT and will be nationally broadcast on TNT.