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Sports Why Lakers' Anthony Davis credited LeBron James for his big Game 2 performance in win over Blazers

11:09  21 august  2020
11:09  21 august  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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Why Lakers ' Anthony Davis credited LeBron James for his big Game 2 performance in win over Blazers . James had not had the luxury of playing with Davis until the Lakers acquired him last summer from the New Orleans Pelicans for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a handful of

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James had just spent the past 24 hours cheering up Anthony Davis and offering some perspective about his play. So it became Davis’ turn both to express his gratitude and brighten James’ mood.

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New BIG 3 with LeBron James & Anthony Davis ! The Lakers have reported to want and target Chris Paul during this years Free Agency. With the season being disrupted, they have to do whatever they have to do possible to take LeBron and Anthony Davis back to the top. ► BECOME A Patreon

And why not? The Lakers had just finished with a 111-88 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series, which held various implications. The Lakers tied the series at 1-1. They won their first playoff game since 2012. And Davis finished with 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting along with 11 rebounds two days after scoring 28 points albeit on an 8-of-24 clip in Game 1.

So while James may have had a modest 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, he still dished seven assists and had a significant role in Davis playing with the kind of aggressiveness the Lakers needed.

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"I never played with a guy of his caliber," Davis said. "To be able to have the success that we’re having so far is great and he’s just been staying in my ear about everything, especially through the playoffs right now. He’s seen it all in the 25 years he’s been playing ..."

Davis said those words as James sat in the interview room more than six feet away from his teammate. James, 35, was thumbing through The Autobiography of Malcolm X as he heard Davis exaggerate the number of years he has played in the NBA, which is actually 17. So James stood up and jokingly yelled at Davis with an expletive. The two then walked out of the hallway sharing a laugh.

"I’ve had some great teammates in my career. AD is one of those unicorns and he does things that some of my other great teammates are not capable of doing," James said before reflecting on his teams in Cleveland (2003-10; 2014-18) and Miami (2010-14). "I played with Dwyane Wade and he could do some things that AD is not capable of doing. I also played with Kyrie Irving and he did some things that AD and D-Wade are not capable of doing. So I’ve had the luxury of playing with some great players."

James had not had the luxury of playing with Davis until the Lakers acquired him last summer from the New Orleans Pelicans for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a handful of draft picks. James and Davis nearly formed instant chemistry for numerous reasons. James thrives as a play-maker and facilitator, while Davis thrives as a rim protector and post-up player. The two like to crack jokes with each other. And that helped the duo navigate hurdles that included receiving teams’ best shots, the Kobe Bryant tragedy and the suspended season because of the pandemic.

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a man wearing a costume: Anthony Davis scored a game-high 31 points for the Lakers. © Kevin C. Cox, Pool photo via USA TODAY Sports Anthony Davis scored a game-high 31 points for the Lakers.

More adversity struck when the Lakers labored through a 3-5 record during the NBA season restart and a Game 1 loss to Portland. Then, Davis showed striking inconsistency in navigating double teams, maintaining his efficiency and defending his opponents. Following the Lakers’ Game 1 loss, Davis sought out various coaches and teammates with a simple question. "How can I get better?" Their response? "You played well."

After all, Davis scored 28 points and offset his poor shooting numbers by getting to the free-throw line (12-of-17). It did not help that the Lakers went 5-of-32 from 3-point range. Still, Davis conceded that he felt "off-balance a lot" and initially settled for jumpers. Though he drove to the basket, Davis believed he lacked the necessary aggressiveness consistently. Hence, Davis had only two points on 1-of-3 shooting and two free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

"I was really down on myself after Game 1. I didn’t feel like I performed to the level I needed to," Davis said. "(LeBron) let me have my moment and kind of get on myself and then he talked to me."

What did James say?

"He said I was fine. He said it’s one game and as a guy who’s won multiple championships and has been in these situations before, he knows what to expect," Davis said. "He knew what to expect from his teammates and he kind of just was there for me to kind of encourage me and keep me level-headed. Because it was just one game."

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So leading into Game 2, Davis said he did not dramatically change his game-day routine or his pre-game warmup. After consoling Davis following Game 1, James did not feel the need to give him a pre-game pep talk for a simple reason.

"He saw the look on my face from the beginning," Davis said. "It’s just a matter of going out and doing it and just playing with a lot of energy and effort, which you can control. I can control how hard I play, how much effort I play with. I can’t control shots being made, but I can control how I play on the defensive end. I can control my energy and effort."

By doing that, Davis became the first Lakers player and fifth player in the shot clock era to record at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in fewer than 30 minutes played. Davis spearheaded a Lakers defense that held the Blazers, the league’s most offensively prolific team, to an inefficient clip from the field (40%) and from 3-point range (27.6%). Davis, who shot 3-of-4 from deep, contributed to the Lakers improving their outside shooting (36.8%). He also spearheaded the Lakers’ effort in cleaning the glass (40-31).

"He was just aggressive from the beginning of the game," James said. "Wasn’t passive at all."

Davis has James partly to thank for playing that way.

"Our relationship has been great the entire season," Davis said. "I’ve kind of just been leaning on him this entire season, just trying to figure out the tricks of the trade of playing with a guy like him and a team like this. It’s been fun, it’s been great. The on-court chemistry has clicked from day one. The off-court chemistry? You guys see it all the time on social media and stuff, how close we are."

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Then reporters saw it again when Davis and James playfully bantered with each other after a job well done.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why Lakers' Anthony Davis credited LeBron James for his big Game 2 performance in win over Blazers


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