Anthony Davis served as the energy guy down the final stretch of a 123-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, throwing down lob dunks, blocking shots and diving on the floor for errant passes to secure the win.
It had been a long time coming, seeing one of the best players in the game play in Davis at an elite level. With LeBron James (right, high-ankle sprain), Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) and Kyle Kuzma (back tightness) unavailable, Davis put the Lakers on his back, scoring a season-high 42 points, and also contributing 12 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals in the victory.
“I feel good,” Davis said after the game. “I’m getting my legs back. I’m getting my rhythm back. I’m getting my steps back on both ends of the floor. So, I feel good.”
Davis said the chase down block of Jae Crowder was an indication that he’s getting back to form. However, Davis has been showing signs or returning to his superstar capabilities of late.
Over the last five games, Davis has averaged 24 points and eight rebounds.
“You see Anthony just getting a little more stronger every game, a little more in rhythm every game,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “It was just a sensational performance by Anthony tonight.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso finished with 17 points each, while Montrezl Harrell and Ben McLemore contributed 12 points apiece of the bench.
Cameron Payne led the Suns with 24 points off the bench.
In a game that could be a playoff preview for the opening round if the Lakers advance through the play-in game, the Lakers took the lead from the opening tip and never trailed, leading by as many as 23 points and holding off a late rally by Phoenix.
“We know the team we can be,” Davis said. “So, I think we’re just staying positive. As we play the right way, see the ball go through the rim and see us getting stops, the team gets very confident and we can only imagine when we get all of our players back the team that we can be.”
At 38-20, the Lakers are a game behind the Portland Trail Blazers (39-29) for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Portland hosts the Houston Rockets on Monday, while the Lakers hosts the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
After missing three games to rest his sore ankle, James was in attendance on Sunday. Davis said his teammate is getting close to returning, perhaps making his way on the court on Tuesday against the Knicks.
James missed 20 games due to a right, high-ankle sprain. He returned to play in two games. However, James was not himself and described feeling a sharp pain in his injured ankle. James shut it down again to allow more time for his ankle to heal.
“What I’ve seen from LeBron today, he’ll be fine,” Davis said, when asked if James will be ready for the playoffs. “Trust me, he’ll be fine. He’s been in this game long enough -- obviously he’s missed a ton of games -- but he’s been in this league long enough to come back and lock in and do what he’s got to do to help the team.”
Added Vogel on the return of James: “He looks good in his workouts. Obviously, there’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period with him, in terms of him getting his rhythm and timing back. Hopefully, we have enough time for that to pick up very quickly. I tend to learn to have confidence in LeBron James in situations like that.”