The Los Angeles Lakers have relied on Anthony Davis a lot this season, and he has delivered almost every time as the big man is having a resurgent year, perhaps even entering the MVP conversation.
Unfortunately, the Lakers weren’t able to lean on Davis nearly as much in Friday night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after he picked up three fouls in the first seven minutes of the game.
Some of those fouls were questionable, but regardless, Davis spent most of the first half on the bench while Joel Embiid and the 76ers built up a big lead.
Eventually, Davis was able to get back on the floor and actually had a monster fourth quarter with 21 points. That allowed the Lakers to get back in the game and tie it late, erasing a nine-point deficit in the final 30 seconds.
With the Lakers trailing by one, Davis was fouled on a layup with just three seconds left. Having made each of his first 12 free throw attempts, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Davis would make both and the Lakers would escape with a miracle victory.
After making the first though, Davis saw his second free throw rim out, sending the game to overtime where it was all 76ers. As one of the better free-throw shooters in the league at 83.1%, Davis was naturally disappointed in himself for missing the biggest one, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It hurts, for sure. Especially, like you said, when you make the first one. I watched the tape trying to see what I did wrong, obviously I left it short but it was the exact same follow-through and everything. Guys were thinking, I was thinking, ‘oh, they foul AD, they tricked this one off.’ I got up and make the first, and even with [Austin Reaves] too. But for me, that one is tough. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make free throws, especially in that type of situation. I’m still kind of shocked that I missed it.”
Even though the Lakers almost stole the win if not for Davis’ missed free throw, they wouldn’t have even been in that position if it were not for his foul trouble and fourth-quarter dominance.
Davis wound up finishing with 31 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 36 minutes, going 9-of-13 from the field. He also talked about how difficult it was for him to get going after spending much of the first half on the bench in foul trouble:
“It’s always tough to get in a rhythm when you’re in foul trouble and I was in foul trouble all night. But just continuing to fight. My teammates did a good job of putting me in situations to score the basketball. Obviously getting to the line helps, but we just kept fighting as a team. We just kept battling and kept getting stops and kept scoring. The numbers don’t matter to me, I feel like even with me in foul trouble, the guys were still playing well in the game. They would get a lead and the guys would cut it down, they’d get another lead and we’d cut it down. So I just tried to go out in the fourth quarter and just stay aggressive even with the foul trouble. It’s tough early in the game because you don’t want to pick up three or four, which I did, three in the first quarter. So that kind of takes away your aggressiveness in the sense of where they may call an offensive foul, can’t rebound, offensive rebound, it’s tough to defensive rebound. So even though some of the calls I feel like were questionable, I just try to go out and still compete.”
Even though it was a tough loss, Davis and the Lakers deserve some credit for fighting back in the fourth quarter the way they did.
Davis was hoping for a 4-2 road trip before it started and although that’s no longer obtainable, L.A. could finish it 3-3 with a win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
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