Anthony Davis may have played better than ever in the Los Angeles Lakers 113-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, but the All-Star’s top man remained hypercritical in his play.
If I’m hard on myself right now I think I’m a tie,” Davis said after scoring 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks. I’m not taking any pictures. I don’t make free throws. But I think my aggressiveness tonight, just [post-threatening] and getting to the painting allowed the guys to open.
He missed 10 of 18 shots, just 44.4% of the 53.2% he hit at fraternity parties this season. And he went just 2 for 5 from the foul line, making a career-high 80.1% free throws by shooting just 14 of 22 (63.6%) in his last three games.
However, his death proved to be a turning point in his life. The Lakers struck three times in the final three minutes on a Davis pass, allowing the Los Angeles visitors to turn a one-sided game into a relatively comfortable victory.
These are the most productive tools he’s ever gotten in a clutch set.
He increased Los Angeles’ lead from two to five points by giving Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a flat with 2 minutes and 42 seconds left. He found Alex Caruso in the corner for another three points that gave the Lakers the lead seven minutes later, and he gave LeBron James a three-pointer with 1:04 left to give his team an eight-point lead. The final onslaught sealed the victory and allowed the Lakers to extend their winning streak to 8-0 to start the season.
I trust my teammates. AC scored a point for me. Bron hit one and Kenny hit one and they are in the right place I want the guys to be when I get the ball to the post, Davis explained. And I was just able to read my guys, pass or drop into the zone when I was there, and be able to throw the ball, and hit these guys.
While Davis finished with fewer than 20 points for the fifth straight game – his longest streak of fewer than 20 points last season was limited to just three games in the semifinals when Los Angeles was already seeded No. 1 – his assists were up.
Five of Davis’ six assists against the Bucks earned him three points in Los Angeles – tied for the most 3s he’s ever had in a single game in his career – and his 13 assists in the last two games are the most he’s had in two games since joining the Lakers.
James explained that he knew from the beginning that Davis had this passing talent, but that he had rarely been able to show it in New Orleans because teams played him face-to-face and believed he couldn’t beat them on his own.
But I feel like since he’s been here he’s been so good that I know he’s going to see a lot of double teams at some point, James said.
According to James, once those doubles arrive, Davis is trained to determine which lanes he can focus on to find open teammates.
It continues to evolve from game to game. At every shoot, we kind of break these things down – what he sees on the ground, James said. Tonight was another example of how he saw the other side of the ground and placed the ball at the right time and on the right goal and the guys dropped it.
Like Davis, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was not happy with the win, even though the Bucks ranked second in offensive efficiency, averaging 120.4 points per game, while holding the Lakers well below that mark.
Well, we have to be better than that, Mr. Vogel said. We didn’t play our best basketball today.
It’s the tone of a team looking for something much more substantial than a regular season victory in January.
My aggression tonight, Davis said, is the only way to get me out of this funk or who I am.
I strive to be the best basketball player I can be in every game, and I will continue to do that.