LOS ANGELES -- When Anthony Davis got fouled with 10.6 seconds left in the third quarter on Tuesday night, Staples Center erupted. Fans shot out of their seats and started cheering at the top of their lungs. Davis walked up to the free-throw line and attempted his 26th and 27th free throws of the night — to finish with a franchise high 26 makes at the charity stripe, one of several historical milestones he’d reach on the evening — as “M-V-P” chants rained down on him throughout the arena.
Looking around the arena, you saw fans of all ages giving off the same emotions. Every fan had either a genuine smile on their face (minus the Grizzlies fan in a Zach Randolph jersey) or an expression that’s only possible when one’s face contorts to cheer as loud as possible.
It was hard not to feel like Lakers fans were experiencing something they hadn’t had in a long, long time. The feeling that they truly have something special with this team, and beyond that, two pretty special players in Davis and LeBron James. It was also the almost-forgotten feeling that no matter how hard their opponent tried, they just couldn’t stop this Lakers superstar. You knew that every time Davis touched the ball on the offensive end, it was over for the defender, they had to foul him in order to not let him score.
Davis was in the zone, a zone that not many players in the NBA can get to, a zone that only great players can reach. It was a feeling only made possible by feats like your team’s superstar finishing with 40 points and 20 rebounds after only the 3rd quarter of the game.
For Davis, though, it was the simplest thing in the world.
“My job was really easy, it was just to get to the line and make free throws,” Davis said following the Lakers’ 120-91 win. “Everybody played extremely well tonight and it was a true team effort.”
The Lakers fans are going CRAZY right now for Anthony Davis— Ali B (@ali_behpoornia) October 30, 2019
He’s got 40 points, 20 rebounds, 2 blocks, and is 26-27 from the free throw line pic.twitter.com/E2NIYPh9F2
Davis was right to give his teammates some credit. The Lakers went on a 22-0 run with 5:47 left in the third quarter, the Lakers’ longest run in the last 20 seasons. Normally, that would be the biggest news of the night, but because of Davis’ performance, it was just one history-breaking stat of many. Lets go through all the records Davis broke, shall we?
Let’s start off with his free throws. Davis shot 26-27 at the line, which broke Dwight Howard’s Lakers franchise record in free throws made. He also become the fourth player in NBA history to make 26 or more free throws in a game. The last person to do that was Michael Jordan in 1987.
In just the third quarter, Davis made 18 free throws, an NBA record for most makes in a quarter. He also became the first player to have a 40-point,-20 rebound performance in 31 minutes or less in the shot clock era. Lastly, Davis became the sixth player in Lakers history to get 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
When asked about all those feats, Davis said “it’s an honor. Great company. To be here, a part of this franchise and be on a list with those legends means a lot to me. But what’s more important is that we got the win.”
Normally all that history would be impressive enough on its own, but Davis did all of this with (essentially) one healthy arm. Prior to the game, Vogel said that Davis had some soreness in his shoulder and would test it out on the court to see if he could go. Davis eventually played, but left during the second quarter to go get his shoulder looked at, as well as re-taped. Vogel said he was prepared to coach the rest of the game without Davis, but was glad to have his star back when he returned.
“He gutted it out playing in some pain and he was dominant,” Vogel said. “He was obviously impacting the game on both ends of the floor, but just the pressure he puts on the defense with his ability to spin out of lobs, his ability to attack the basket with the ball and then what he’s doing on the glass is spectacular as well.
“They didn’t have an answer for him tonight and he was terrific.”
Davis said his shoulder is fine despite some bumps it took during the game, and that he never considered sitting out.
“I’m here to be one of the leaders of the team,” Davis said. “It’s tough for me to do that on the sideline, so I’d rather see how it feels, go play and lead in that way.”
It’s an exciting time to be a Lakers fan. The Lakers haven’t had a star like Anthony Davis in a while. Think about it, the last Laker player to put up a 40-point, 20-rebound game before Davis was Shaq in 2003. It’s felt like it’s been almost that long since the Lakers had a dynamic duo like Davis and LeBron, too.
Davis did it all even without getting his jumper to fall — he is only 9-37 outside of eight feet this season — which could be a reason to believe that all the excitement that all Lakers fans felt on Tuesday night while watching him play was just the start. According to James, even after a game in which Davis made so much history with one good shoulder, he hasn’t even come close to reaching his peak.
“I don’t even think he’s scratched the surface yet. I think we’re all still getting comfortable with one another, I think he’s still getting comfortable out on the floor, but when he’s attacking like that -- the guy shoots 80’s, 90’s from the free-throw line -- that’s easy money for him and it’s great for our defense as well,” James said. “He was wonderful tonight, spectacular in all facets, both offensively and defensively.”
Lakers fans should get used to it, because at just 26 years old with room still to grow, Davis is going to keep Staples Center rocking like it was on Tuesday for a long time.