LeBron James and Anthony Davis did everything they needed to do to help the Lakers beat the Clippers on Sunday, but they couldn’t do it alone. With the amount of attention James and Davis demand on offense, there needs to be at least one other player that has it going, and on Sunday that player was Avery Bradley.
In nearly 33 minutes against the Clippers, Bradley scored a season-high 24 points on 9-17 shooting from the field, including 6-12 shooting from behind the arc. James and Green are the only other two players on the Lakers that made at least six 3-pointers in a single game this season. Bradley’s career-high for made 3-pointers in a single game is eight.
Bradley got it done on the defensive end, too, with two steals, two loose balls recovered and three deflections. He also forced Patrick Beverley to turn the ball over three times, according to NBA.com. Whatever the Lakers needed from Bradley, he did it, and his all-around performance earned him praise from his teammates after the game.
“He did everything,” James said of Bradley on Sunday. “He was spectacular for us. We know what we will get from him defensively, (and) what he gave us tonight offensively was gigantic.”
However, Bradley thought his big night had as much to do with his superstar teammates, James and Davis, as it did with him.
“Those guys made the game easier on us tonight, and we have a mindset: ‘It can be anybody’s night, any given night,’” Bradley said. “Tonight, it was my night to get more shots.”
Bradley doesn’t expect to score 20 points per game every game, but he does think it’s important for at least one of the team’s role players to take advantage of the attention James and Davis get on defense.
“Throughout this year, it’s been [Kentavious] Caldwell-Pope at times, it’s been Danny Green, it’s been Dwight [Howard]. I can go down the list,” Bradley said. “We just have to all have that confidence, that’s what it is. You have to have that confidence that you can go out there and believe you can make the shots, and continue to play the right way.”
“If it’s not me, it needs to be someone else,” Bradley added. “At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to have my defensive mindset because I know that’s what I need to bring to this team.”
Before the season started, there were concerns about which version of Bradley the Lakers were going to get: The one that thrived as a 3-and-D player with the Boston Celtics, or the one that struggled to make an impact with the Detroit Pistons and Clippers.
The answer has been “a little bit of both,” but overall, Bradley’s been a net positive for the team, and if he continues to shoot the ball the way he’s been shooting it recently (46.3% from 3 over the last 15 games), he could end up being the most valuable guard on the roster because of his two-way play. On the season, the Lakers have been nearly two points per 100 possessions better on defense when Bradley is in the game, according to NBA.com.
This season has been full of redemption stories for the Lakers, and it seems like Bradley is finally getting his.