Anthony Davis faced one of the toughest matchups possible in just his second game after returning from injury, squaring off with Philadelphia 76ers superstar center Joel Embiid in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 105-87 loss on Thursday.
The two big men battled each other throughout the night, spending almost 17 minutes of the clash engaged in the individual matchup on either end of the floor. Davis ended up with game-high 31 points and 12 rebounds, recording two of his four blocks by swatting away Embiid’s shots in the second and third quarter.
Meanwhile, the 76ers center chalked up a slightly less impressive stat line, scoring team-high 26 points and finishing one rebound shy of a double-double.
Davis said he enjoyed Thursday’s clash of the giants in Philadelphia.
“It’s always fun playing against another great big,” the 28-year-old All-Star said. “He’s been on a tear, averaging like 43 or something like that [recently], putting the team on his back. So we knew it was gonna be a tough matchup coming in the way he’s been scoring the basketball, and it was fun.
“Fun to battle on both ends with me guarding him and him guarding me. Anytime I get a chance to play against someone like that, I always try to have fun with those matchups, and unfortunately, we just didn’t get the win.”
However, it was Embiid who celebrated a win on Thursday night, as he enjoyed greater support from his teammates throughout the game than Davis did. While the Lakers’ forward shot 66.7% from the field, the rest of the team went 25-for-67 (37.3%) — leading to the Lakers’ second-fewest point total of the season.
The 76ers shot at a 50% clip overall, making 37.1% of their 3-point attempts.
When asked if he would have enjoyed matchups with centers like Embiid in his first season in L.A. when Davis didn’t appear to have approached his shifts at the five with the same enthusiasm, the Lakers’ forward said the team’s game plan dictates his usual position on the court.
“No, I think it’s just our lineups now,” Davis said. “JaVale was starting every game, and then Dwight was coming to get him, Markieff started to get me. So I didn’t have to, but now that Dwight and DJ are in and out of the rotation for some games and the way we’ve been starting, I had to guard him and these other bigs that I usually wouldn’t have to if those guys started.
“So like I said, it’s always fun to go head up with those guys and battle.”
Frank Vogel lauds Davis’ ‘terrific plays’ on Embiid
Head coach Frank Vogel thought Davis did a good job against Embiid, who is averaging 33.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks over the last 18 games.
“It was good to see him get in a rhythm, competed, and made some terrific plays on Embiid,” Vogel said of Davis’ performance.
“We were trying to bring double teams and give him as much support as he could so we could keep him out of foul trouble and that part of it worked. We didn’t cover the backside threes well enough, but Anthony played a hell of a game on both sides of the ball.”
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