On the brink of as improbable a win as the Lakers have had over the Celtics in some time, Anthony Davis stepped to the line on Tuesday with 28 seconds left and the chance to put the hosts up four points, potentially icing the game.
Across the whole season, Davis is shooting 82.3% from the line. Over his incredible last month of play, that figure has ticked up to north of 85%. There were few players, if any, the Lakers would have wanted at the line in that situation.
As is now obvious in the day after, Davis did not ice the game. In fact, he missed both free throws, leaving the door wide open. Jayson Tatum responded with a tough mid-range jumper to tie the game and eventually force overtime.
The Lakers fully imploded across the fourth quarter and the extra session, Davis’ free throws included, and dropped a game they led by double digits in the closing minutes of regulation. After the contest, Davis was as distraught as anyone about those free throws.
“I haven’t thought about the rest of the game,” Davis said. “Make two free throws, go up four, it’s a different ball game. To me, the rest doesn’t matter. Had a chance to ice the game, missed both.”
The misses overshadow another brilliant performance from Davis, who was paramount in the Lakers’ own comeback in the contest. He and James each scored 20 points in the second half on a combined 15-26 shooting from the field. The only blemish was the only two misses Davis had at the charity stripe across the final two quarters.
Davis did it while playing every minute of the second half and eventually overtime. Even if he looked visibly gassed at times, he wasn’t interested in using that as an excuse, either.
“I was fine,” Davis said. “That’s not an excuse to miss free throws or anything. I could have asked to come out, felt good. It’s on me.”
Perhaps shell-shocked from letting their 13-point advantage with 4:25 left slip away, the Lakers were outclassed in overtime. After Westbrook opened up overtime with back-to-back layups in the first 63 seconds, the Lakers wouldn’t score again until a LeBron layup with 48 seconds left that cut the lead to six points.
Asked about the overtime session and the Lakers’ response in it, Davis could only harken back to the fact that, in his mind, there never should have been overtime.
“I hold myself to standard from the line,” Davis said. “It’s unacceptable for me. But you have to try to go and complete the game (in overtime)...Honestly, I just have to go back and watch overtime and the last four minutes, five minutes of the fourth. But right now, it’s just the free throws that’s kind of weighing on me.”
It’s a brutal blow for the Lakers and Davis, both of whom looked so good in the second half on Tuesday and seemed set for another statement game. Instead, they’re left wondering, for the second time inside of a week, about what-ifs.