Anthony Davis had an unusually bad performance in the Los Angeles Lakers Game 1 loss to the Phoenix Suns. While everyone in Frank Vogel’s offense did not have a good night, Davis was especially bad given what he can and should be doing on a nightly basis.
Davis finished the night with just 13 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-16 shooting and 3-of-5 from the free-throw line. This is a stark difference from his showing the last time these two teams met in the regular season when he finished with 42 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks. To go from dominant in that game to disappearing on Sunday is not something Vogel or the Lakers want to see.
Vogel credited the Suns defense for their game plan around Davis and detailed the ways they can improve.
“Phoenix brought a lot more attention to him obviously because of that game, so they did a great job,” Vogel said. “Give them credit, they did a good job limiting his touches and then bringing the double teams when he did get it and making things difficult for him. But there’s ways we can be better to take advantage of him and like I said, we’ll look at the tape and be better in Game 2.”
Vogel also explained how the Lakers can be better when LeBron James is on the bench, minutes they particularly struggled in during Game 1 when Davis was the main focus offensively.
“You said it right there. We were minus 11. We’ll look at the tape. We’ll see if there’s things we can do in all ways. Both sides of the ball, rotations and things like that. We’ve been pretty good of late with him out. We played obviously half of our season seemed like without him, so we can be better there.”
A lot of the talk surrounding the Lakers has been the success of Davis at center and what that unlocks for their offense. Vogel didn’t think that lineup was successful in Game 1 though and doesn’t think it’s always as simple as moving Davis over to center to get him going.
“There are a lot of factors that go into it. I’m hesitant to really dive into what drives my decision-making on that because I don’t want to tip my hand on what lineups we’re going to play tomorrow night, but there’s a time where size makes more sense on both sides of the ball and there’s times where being more agile and mobile defensively and having more space offensively makes more sense.
“Statistically I don’t think AD at the five last night was as good as it was, definitely wasn’t as good as it was against Golden State, and I’d argue what metrics you are looking at in terms of saying it was our best lineup in Game 1.”
The Lakers have plenty to look at in their day off before the second game of the series. Offensively, they need to find ways to make their shots and get Davis more involved. On defense, they must figure out a way to put pressure on Devin Booker without leaving DeAndre Ayton open under the basket.
If Davis can return to his normal form, the Lakers should be at an advantage in Game 2 and the rest of the series. However, it’s up to him to get past the scheming that the Suns are doing to stop him.
Davis takes responsibility for Game 1 loss
In some form of a silver lining, it appears Davis knew how he hurt the Lakers chances of winning. He spoke candidly about it after the game. “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.
“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.”
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