The Los Angeles Lakers lost the first game of their first-round series with the Phoenix Suns on Sunday for a myriad of reasons: Their bad transition defense, their poor shooting and their inability to win the rebounding battle. However, the reason that will follow the team into their next game on Wednesday is the underwhelming play of Anthony Davis.
In 38 minutes against the Suns in Game 1, Davis was held to just 13 points on 31.3% shooting from the field, and he posted a team-worst plus-minus of -18. Per 100 possessions, the Lakers were 38.7 points better on offense with Davis off of the floor than they were with him on it.
There’s a lot of context that gets lost in that number, like the fact that Davis led a lot of the the “non-LeBron” lineups, but that doesn’t change the fact that he underperformed, and he held himself accountable for that after the game.
“I missed a ton of shots,” Davis said. “We just have to be better on that end, but there’s no way we’re winning a game, let alone a series, with me playing the way I played. So this one is on me. I take full responsibility for sure. We’ll be better in Game 2.”
To bounce back in Game 2 on Wednesday, James doesn’t think his co-star has to do much other than play and, most importantly, respond to a bad outing like he usually does.
“It’s always just AD being AD,” James said. “Anytime he comes to the press and tells you guys we can’t win with him playing the way he played, he always responds. So I’m looking forward to that.
“When AD is AD, then we’re the Lakers.”
James did appreciate that Davis stepped up and put the loss on himself, though, saying that it’s a testament to his leadership.
“It’s never just one guy, but I love when AD puts that pressure on himself,” James said. “We’re a better team when he’s aggressive, we’re a better team when he demands the ball, but we’ve all got to do a lot better as well. Tonight was a great opportunity for us to play better. We didn’t do that, and we look forward to Game 2.”
Frank Vogel, on the other hand, is looking forward to the challenge of unlocking Davis on offense.
“There’s plenty we can do,” Vogel said. “I’m not going to get into the details of what our adjustments are going to look like, but certainly we can do a better job taking advantage of the attention he’s drawing.”
The fate of this series doesn’t rest solely on Davis’ play, but there’s no denying that a lot of the perceived advantages that the Lakers have in this series come back to him. He’ll have to be better if they want to win. Luckily, it appears no one is more aware of that than Davis himself.