While LeBron James is still the Los Angeles Lakers’ main man, Anthony Davis is already shining in Hollywood. After spending the first seven years of his NBA career in New Orleans, the forward seems to have taken to the big stage with aplomb.
Despite nursing a sore shoulder on Tuesday night, Davis exploded for a massive game in the Lakers’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies. But it was more than just a dominant performance; it was truly historic.
Anthony Davis’ performance
When Anthony Davis stepped onto the Staples Center floor last night, it would have been easy to excuse a poor performance. The big man’s shooting shoulder was wrapped up in kinesio tape due to some muscle tightness. Davis, however, wasn’t making any excuses.
The Lakers got off to a slow start, trailing by double digits in the first quarter, but then Davis took over. Despite a brief trip into the locker room to get his shoulder retaped, the forward carried the Lakers to the win. He posted 40 points and 20 rebounds on the night, leading all players in both categories. To make things even more impressive, he did it all in only 31 minutes.
While the Lakers had some early issues with floor spacing, forcing Davis out of the paint, he lived on the low block last night. He finished six chances at the rim and drew 13 of his 14 total shooting fouls in the key; he would make those chances count, going 26-for-27 from the line.
Making Los Angeles Lakers’ history
Given their decades of dominance and roster of star players, the Los Angeles Lakers have a rich history. Anthony Davis, however, forced his way into the record books last night, after only four games in purple and gold.
In terms of pure production Davis was the first Laker to score 40 points and pull down 20 rebounds since Shaquille O’Neal did so in 2003. Beyond that pure production, however, the forward’s free throw shooting broke records. His 26 makes from the line broke the previous Lakers record of 25 in a single game, which was set by Dwight Howard in 2013. He also joins Shaq and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only Lakers to have 100 points, 10 blocks and 10 assists through his first four games with the club.
Davis was also the fourth player in NBA history to make at least 25 free throws in a single game, joining Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Adrian Dantley. The Lakers’ big man also set a league record for the most made foul shots in a single quarter, when he went 18-for-18 in the third.
“It’s an honor to be on that list with those legends, but more important is we got the win,” Davis said after the game. “It was a grind in the first half, and my teammates trusted me. I just tried to be a monster on the glass.”
A sign of what’s to come for Anthony Davis and the Lakers
While it’s risky to draw too many conclusions from a single game, this game was obviously a step in the right direction for Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers. Head coach Frank Vogel gave his big man the space to dominate the low post; even if he’s not hitting a historic amount of free throws every night, Davis will always find success in the paint.
After the game, LeBron James simply said, “I don’t even think [Davis has] scratched the surface yet.” If that’s the case, the entire NBA should be on notice.