Column: Lakers' NBA title hopes all about Anthony Davis, not an aging LeBron

Lakers' NBA title hopes all about Anthony Davis, not an aging LeBron

9/25/2020 4:18:00 PM

Lakers' NBA title hopes all about Anthony Davis, not an aging LeBron

The one Laker who must prove he can play at a consistently high level for them to win a championship? It's not LeBron James. It's Anthony Davis.

After making his first NBA playoff start since 2017, Dwight Howard rekindles his past rebounding dominance in the Lakers’ Game 4 win over the Nuggets.In their series-opening loss to Portland, his plus/minus rating was a minus-20. The next game he was nearly unstoppable — 31 points, 11 rebounds — and the Lakers won four straight.

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AdvertisementIn their series-opening loss to Houston, he was pushed all over the floor by the Rockets’ 6-5 P.J. Tucker. The next game, he dominated, and the Lakers won four straight againFast forward to this series, which Davis seemed to own after his buzzer-beating trey — the Mamba Shot — crushed the Nuggets in Game 2. But then he gave away all the momentum with a general lack of fire that led to zero rebounds in the first three quarters of a Game 3 loss.

“Unacceptable,” he called his performance.In what has become typical Davis fashion, he moped for a day and then affixed his hirsute game face for Thursday.Advertisement“If his brow is really low, then you know not to talk to him … yesterday his brow was very low … so we already knew the mindset he was in,” said James of Davis’ defining feature.

Sure enough, Davis scored the Lakers’ first 10 points in setting the tone for a furious night that eventually resulted in the Lakers outscoring the Nuggets 25-6 in second-chance points.“I came out in my mind to be ultra-aggressive,” Davis said.Highlights from the Lakers’ win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday.

AdvertisementBut he lost it just as quickly, making only two baskets with one rebound in the second and third quarters, noting, “They kind of wanted to try and take me out of it.”They tried, and they succeeded, and that can’t happen for such a long stretch if the Lakers want to handle the defensive wizardry of their likely Finals opponent from Miami.

He finally figured it out in a monster fourth quarter — 10 points, four rebounds — highlighted by his resiliency. Midway through the quarter he appeared to badly twist his left ankle when he landed on it after a shot. Yet after writhing on the floor, he eventually stood up and never sat back down, standing through the entire ensuing timeout and never leaving the game.

Said Vogel: “Great toughness.”AdvertisementSaid Davis, who wasn’t wearing a boot afterward: “Ankle feels fine … rolled it pretty bad but not too bad. I’ll be fine.”Pushing Davis in that fourth quarter was his former New Orleans Pelican teammate Rajon Rondo and, don’t laugh, but Rondo might be the third most important player on this team partially because of his influence on Davis.

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“Rondo is always in my ear about being the best defensive player on the floor, best offensive player on the floor, even when it doesn’t seem possible,” said Davis, who then described their exchanges.“He might tell me, I need to go block a shot or close out to a guy, and then swing it across the floor, I need to be there too,” Davis explained. “I said, ‘Do, that’s impossible.’ He’s like, ‘I don’t care, at the end of the day you should be able to do it.’”

AdvertisementRondo is right. For the most important Laker, nothing should be impossible. For his team to win a championship, Anthony Davis must make it his mission to believe it. Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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Of course Lebron is key. Ludicrous Tweet. Disrespectful! The fix is in for Lebron's 4th championship. Here is why the Lakers need to win this year. After the season ends, these are LA’s free agents. LeBron is out after next season.🏀 Aging LeBron James...you know sometimes with you so call reporters a player is dammed if they do and dammed if they don't. Kudos to AD, he is definitely a valued asset to the Lakers . However, don't put Lebron James out to pasture yet. Play ball guys, great game.

Without LeBron on the floor, that team doesn’t work. No Bill, they're about both and when Bron can't hit the ocean you almost get beat. They're also about Vogel's molasses adjustments to what takes place on the floor. Guessing you missed the last 6 minutes ofthe game when James played defense on Murray-that was the difference in the game. Older James is still a great player.

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