The last 48 hours have been tough for Anthony Davis. After an abysmal performance against the Sacramento Kings, where Davis was absent offensively and embarrassing defensively, he bounced back on Friday.
Like a monster in a horror film, the thought of Davis being around is enough to dissuade many from even attempting a shot at the rim. And for those like Jabari Walker who dared, they were met at the basket by the destroyer of worlds.
Davis finished the night with 16 points and 14 rebounds, along with five blocks and three steals. Per NBA.com, Davis is currently the league leader in rejections, averaging 3.5 a game.
"He's just trying to set a tone, Darvin Ham said postgame. "The way Bron sets the tone for us offensively, whether he's playing downhill, the three ball's working, the way he's setting up his teammates, AD is doing the same thing on the defensive side of the ball. Being up able to switch, protecting the basket, active hands – thus the three steals – and just talking and communication and giving guys confidence that's in front of him to be more aggressive on the ball."
Davis might not have a Defensive Player of the Year award yet, but he's aware of his role on this team to be the Lakers' best defender.
"I'm the D-line, the linebacker, safety, cornerback, everything," Davis said after the win. "I'm everywhere. I just try to be that for the team. I tell guys to pressure the ball and funnel them to me and I'm going to help you guys and if I go try to block a shot or alter a shot, then you guys just crack back on whoever the big is – tonight it was Ayton – and get him off the glass and get the rebound. I just try to be the anchor for the guys knowing that they got protection on the back line which gives them enough confidence to go pressure the ball…Just try to get guys to get into the players and make them feel uncomfortable and if they go by you by doing so, just know that you have help on the back line."
Davis and James have been dealing with injuries that have made them game-time decisions essentially every night for a week. Still, despite that, with James leading the offense and Davis anchoring the defense, the Lakers have won four of their last five games and look primed to advance to the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
Davis will be tested again on Sunday with another good young big in Alperen Sengun from the Rockets.
However, given Davis' defensive prowess, Sengun might have to think of this as a challenge for himself, not the other way around.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.