Anthony Davis Paints a Harsh Reality for the Los Angeles Lakers but Proves He’s Becoming the Leader They Desperately Need: ‘We’re Not Winning a Championship the Way We’re Playing’

The Los Angeles Lakers knew things were going to be challenging without the King. LeBron James, who remains out with an abdominal injury, has left LA without its leader for the last five games. As a result, Anthony Davis has been forced to step up and take control of the team in James’ absence.

Friday night was possibly the Lakers’ worst game of the season; a 107-83 loss to the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves. But the one glimmer of hope came from Davis, who after an impassioned rant became the leader the Purple and Goal are desperate for.

The Los Angeles Lakers were thrashed by the Minnesota Timberwolves

With back-to-back wins in their pocket, the Lakers were certainly feeling good about facing a Timberwolves team on a six-game losing streak. Much of that confidence remained at halftime, as LA held a five-point lead at home. Then, disaster struck.

Minnesota outscored LA 40-12 in the third quarter alone. The Wolves hit 15 out of 24 shots during the 12-minute frame, while the Lakers went a dismal 4-for-21. After another 7-0 run by Minnesota to start the fourth, LA was down 91-61.

Davis was the team leader in points, scoring 22 while chipping in eight boards, three steals, and three blocks. Russell Westbrook was next with 20 points, but he also finished with five turnovers and a team-worst -32 rating. Elsewhere, the starting trio of Avery Bradley, Wayne Ellington, and Kent Bazemore combined for just 11 points and a -55 rating. It was also the end of Carmelo Anthony’s scorching hot shooting stretch, as the 37-year-old went 1-for-12 from the field and 1-for-8 from three.

Anthony Davis blasted the Lakers

There is no excuse for the Lakers losing a game as poorly as they did to a team like the T-Wolves. And after the game, Davis didn’t hold any of his feelings back.

“We sucked,” Davis told ESPN when asked about the dreaded third quarter. “No defense. Can’t score. That’s not just this third quarter, it’s every third quarter we’ve played this season. We come out slow, lackadaisical offensively and defensively. We got to get it together. Why? I can’t tell you. But we got to do a better job.”

LA’s struggles have been prevalent all season. The Purple and Gold have already suffered two losses to the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder and now one to the Timberwolves. But out of their seven wins, five were decided by four points or less.

Now, at just 7-6, AD is putting his entire team on the spot (h/t ESPN).

“We got to decide who we want to be. A championship team? That’s not us right now. We’re not winning a championship the way we’re playing. We got to be better, and we got to care more for our wins at home. Wins in general. That was embarrassing.”

Anthony Davis

Ellington, who was making his first start of the season, echoed some of the same sentiments as the Brow.

“Oh, we definitely should be winning games,” Ellington added. “We still should be winning games. Obviously, LeBron is LeBron. But at the same time, no excuse for us to come in and have a performance like we did tonight. That team was not better than us.”

Davis is stepping up as a leader

While LeBron’s timetable to return is still up in the air, the Lakers are in desperate need of a leader to rally around. But based on his play and his postgame comments, Davis is holding things down until the King returns.

AD, along with the injured Talen Horton-Tucker, are the longest-tenured Lakers on the team. He has been on the mountaintop, winning the 2020 NBA Finals, while also seeing their title defense crumble in the first round of the playoffs last season. At 28 years old, Davis is now a battle-tested veteran who the rest of LA can follow. And he’s come a long way from just a few days ago, when he was struggling for answers after a collapse against OKC.

But the Brow isn’t just going to motivate the Purple and Gold with his words. Ultimately, his play will inspire the rest of the team, as well. To no one’s surprise, he’s been the best player on the Lakers this year, averaging 23.8 points and 11.0 rebounds while suiting up for all 13 games.

Davis has gone from putting up empty stats on a losing New Orleans Pelicans team to carrying the weight of the championship-aspiring Los Angeles Lakers on his back. And after the way he called out his team, he’s proven to be up to the task.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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