Anthony Davis put in a dominant effort in the LA Lakers' 132-126 Game 1 loss in the 2023 Western Conference finals against Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Davis tallied 40 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, shooting 60.9% and 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
Davis was crucial in keeping the Lakers afloat down the stretch. They trailed by 21 points in the third quarter but trimmed the lead down to three points at the 3:23 mark, 2:18 mark and 1:12 mark. Austin Reaves hit two huge 3s in that stretch, while LeBron James knocked down two free throws to bring the Lakers within touching distance three times.
However, the latter bricked the game-tying 3-point shot with 45 seconds left on the clock, which gave Denver the room to extend their lead and close the game. Davis scored 22 points in the second half alone. He also stepped up defensively after getting dominated by Nikola Jokic in the first half.
NBA fans praised the Lakers big man after his monster effort nearly helped the team pull off a stunning comeback.
One fan seemingly concluded that Anthony Davis needed more help to carry LA, saying:
"Get this man some help"
More reactions followed:
Anthony Davis is integral to LA Lakers' success against Nikola Jokic and co.
Game 1 between the LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets proved many right about their prediction that this series will come down to Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic. Davis is arguably the best defensive big in the league, while Jokic is the most well-rounded offensive center.
The key to the Lakers' success is Davis preventing Jokic from impacting the game on multiple fronts. The latter's ability to score, make plays and rebound at a high clip together separates the Nuggets from most teams in the NBA.
Jokic stuffed the stat sheet, tallying 34 points, 21 rebounds (six offensive) and 14 assists, shooting 70.6%, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Davis matched him on the scoring front but had no answers to the Serbian's dominance on the boards or his playmaking.
Jokic exploited the Lakers' lack of size in the first half, grabbing 16 of his 21 rebounds, six on offensive glass alone. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis only had two rebounds by then. The Lakers trailed by 18 entering the break.
Davis cleaned up on the defensive end significantly after that, out-rebounding Jokic 8-5. The Lakers used Davis as a help defender on the Nuggets' center by using Rui Hachimura as the primary defender. Davis was able to get the better of Jokic in that situation defensively.
The Lakers gained a 72-60 advantage in the second half and nearly pulled off the win. That's an adjustment Darvin Ham can continue to use moving forward, which could prove decisive as the series goes on.