Even though the Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2021 NBA playoffs as the seventh seed, there was optimism they could beat the Phoenix Suns in Round 1 because of their frontcourt led by Anthony Davis.
The Lakers’ collective size, strength and physicality up front would in theory wear down the Suns over a series, so it was discouraging to see them lose Game 1, 99-90, on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles as a team could not score from the field even on open looks, and Davis, in particular, had a brutal outing. The All-Star finished the game with a measly 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting in 39 minutes.
Davis did not make any excuses for himself and promised that he would be better in Game 2 on Tuesday.
“I don’t think nothing really changed, to be honest. I missed a ton of shots, we missed a ton of shots as a team. Scored 90 points, really 87 after the AC three. Missed 11 free throws, 15 threes, nine layups. We gave up eight offensive rebounds to [Deandre] Ayton alone. We held that team to 99 points. We gave them a ton of points as well. They had 16 transition points in the first half. … We just got to be better on that end.
“There’s no way we’re winning a game, let alone a series, with me playing the way I played. This one was on me. I take full responsibility for sure. We’ll be better Game 2.”
Davis emphasized the need to come out with a sense of urgency before Game 1, so he is not exactly sure why that didn’t happen.
“Usually I come out of the gates very dominant and I think tonight or today we had it going. I hit a couple threes. We were getting into the paint with Drumm. … It’s on me. I still got to make plays offensively. Like I said, it’s on me. I’m not too worried about my performance. I know I’ll be better, I know we’ll be better in Game 2.”
However, Davis did add that it was good to see a real crowd in the Suns arena show up for the playoffs and that losing Game 1 on the road is not the end of the world.
“No. It actually felt back to normal. It felt great,” Davis said. “Go out there and hear certain things. ‘Beat LA’ and all the other stuff. It felt like playoff basketball, to be honest.
“We’ll be ready to come out and play on Tuesday and looking to get that one and get two in LA. But it felt good. It felt normal to be back in a visiting arena and hear the crowd. Some cheering, some booing. We’ve got a lot of Lakers fans here, but it felt great to play in a playoff atmosphere.”
As a captain and leader for the Lakers, it is good to hear Davis taking the blame for a loss and it was well-warranted considering how passive he looked on most possessions. The 28-year-old looked massively different from the player that recently dropped 42 points on the Suns in the regular season, seemingly letting the game come to him instead of being aggressive and forcing the issue.
James credits Anthony Davis for taking ownership of loss
LeBron James was the only Laker to have a solid game, and while he liked hearing his co-star assume more responsibility, he emphasized that he and the rest of the roster have to pick up their play as well.
“It’s never just one guy, but I love when AD puts that pressure on himself. We’re a better team when he’s aggressive with everything. When he demands the ball. … Tonight was a great opportunity for us to play better. Mostly, we didn’t do that. We look forward to Game 2.”
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