The explanation for why Anthony Davis was so much stronger in the third quarter than he was in the first half was something Lakers coach Darvin Ham was willing to share.
“His dumb coach started calling his plays more, calling his number more,” Ham said.
This caused laughter from the coach and the media.
Finding Davis more in the third quarter led to 10 shots, making six and scoring 14 points in 11 minutes. In 17:35 of the first half, Davis took just six shots, made three and scored seven points.
D’Angelo Russell explained what he saw from Davis in that third quarter.
“(He) dominated,” Russell said. “The boss… And he dominated from the inside, from the outside. They were sending the duo on the dribble. He was going fast. He was getting to the free throw line. He alone dominated the game and you all saw it (from the front row).”
Despite all that, Davis was efficient, taking just 18 shots, making 10 and scoring 27 points with nine rebounds and five assists as the Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 122-111 on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
And it turns out Ham and Davis had a conversation at halftime.
“He and I talked and I said, ‘I’m going to force feed (you), man, and be aggressive. Don’t even bother. Be aggressive all the way to the edge,’” Ham said. “And he did it tonight. He had an arrogance. He was not satisfied. He’s one of the best mid-range shooters I’ve ever been around, more than capable of hitting threes. But again, he lived in love and paint tonight and that’s the AD we need. That’s that AD…that attack and him forcing his will, forcing…knowing that they can’t take care of it.’
Anthony Davis hits the ball in front of Phoenix’s Jock Landale.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
Midway through the third quarter, Davis called for the ball, apparently defending Suns backup center Jock Landale.
Russell passed the ball inside to Davis, who quickly turned to the baseline, took two dribbles and threw down a one-handed reverse shot.
Davis yelled as he ran down the court. His teammates jumped off the bench to celebrate with him.
“I don’t care if it’s a cut or whatever. I want to be able to put the ball in the basket and do what I need to do for the team,” Davis said. “And obviously being more aggressive like me in that third quarter helps, not just me, but the whole team, because it opens things up for all the other guys. But like I said at the beginning, it looks good, but the game was going for everybody else, and in the third quarter, it was more like, ‘Okay, AD, it’s your turn, it’s your time now, so go. forward”. We had a good game plan. Somehow it worked out for us.”
Davis played 38:17 and needed everything the Lakers had to give to improve their record to 36-37 and move into 10th place in the Western Conference heading into the final game.
The Lakers need Davis more than ever with LeBron James (right foot soreness) still out.
So when Davis was asked in the third quarter to become a man, to be a leader, to be stronger, he complied.
He said it was “a bit of both”, asking for the ball and asking Ham to take more shots.
“He made an effort to call all my plays basically the whole third quarter,” Davis said. “And make different looks to give the ball when they couldn’t double it. And then I was the one to say: ‘Okay, now the goal.’ And the coaches and the other four players on the floor were doing a good job of putting me in situations to be effective, and now it’s my job to be effective. It was a little bit of both, with my mindset coming out and being aggressive in the middle, and also training. Even our point guards, Dennis (Schroder), DLo (Russell) and AR (Austin Reaves) were on defense any time we (the Suns) scored or rebounded, they would slow it down and it’s like, ‘AD, what do you want? ‘ And we would get into that. I had to make a play.’