Anthony Davis' 42 points help Lakers topple Suns for big win

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 09: Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) grabs a rebound against the Phoenix Suns.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis grabs a rebound during the first quarter of a 123-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at Staples Center. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

If you were Monty Williams, maybe you wouldn’t want to think about it either.

His Phoenix Suns have become one of the West’s best teams, navigating this pandemic season avoiding peril while getting amazing performances from the ageless Chris Paul and the unconscious Devin Booker, a bona fide superstar duo.

But the prize for all their growth this season could be the Los Angeles Lakers, armed with a rested LeBron James and an awakened Anthony Davis. You don’t have to strain to imagine the Suns wishing they could see what’s behind any other door.

“We haven’t even gotten that far,” Williams said before the Lakers’ 123-110 victory on Sunday at Staples Center.

But it’s as conceivable as any of the playoff scenarios available to the Lakers, the team quite possibly headed to the play-in tournament with their full complement of players.

The Lakers are hopeful starting point guard Dennis Schroder will be available to return before the end of the regular season once he clears COVID-19 protocols, coach Frank Vogel said.

And more importantly, LeBron James has looked impressive in recent workouts and is expected to also be back this week, according to sources. He could even return in one of the Lakers’ last two home games, either Tuesday against the Knicks or Wednesday against the Rockets.

“From what I saw today … he’ll be fine,” Davis said.

Add those returns to what the Lakers have gotten from Davis over his last three games, and it would be a problem for anyone — maybe especially the Suns.

If the Lakers fall into the play-in tournament and win their first game, they’d secure the No. 7 seed and a possible meeting with Phoenix (currently battling with Utah for the top seed) in the first round. That might be great news for Davis, who feasted against undersized defenders like Torrey Craig and Jae Crowder and slower defenders like Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric.

Williams switched and started Saric over Craig for the second half after Davis scored 22 points in the first half. He then added 12 more in the third quarter, the Lakers’ lead running out to as much as 23.

Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dunks over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and forward Frank Kaminsky.
Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dunks over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and forward Frank Kaminsky during the fourth quarter on Sunday. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers forward Anthony Davis is guarded by Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and forward Torrey Craig in the first quarter.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis is guarded by Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, left, and forward Torrey Craig in the first quarter. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The Suns closed in the fourth quarter, reserve Cameron Payne scoring 24 off the bench before Davis slammed the door.

“We’re not at full strength yet,” Davis said. “We know the team we can be.”

Davis had 42 points, on 13-of-27 shooting from the field, his most since scoring 43 in the series clincher against Portland last year in the bubble. He also contributed 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocked shots.

The early dominance was the latest in a string of strong performances from Davis, who missed most of the season with injuries to his calf and Achilles tendon. In a win against Denver, he hit a key fourth-quarter shot and ended the game with a ridiculous blocked shot. He carried the Lakers in a near-win against the Trail Blazers, scoring 36. And Sunday, he was almost equally effective.

For the Suns, a team with three starters who have never made a playoff appearance, Davis and the Lakers would certainly be a less-than-gentle baptism.

Still, there are no guarantees that the Lakers will make it to the finish line of the regular season fully intact, especially considering they’re beginning the week with another key injury.

Even with Talen Horton-Tucker returning after missing the last two games with a strained calf, the Lakers didn’t have Kyle Kuzma because of a sore lower back. Following the Lakers loss in Portland on Friday, Kuzma was clearly uncomfortable in his postgame interview, audibly groaning when he stood up to leave.

“He reported that he injured it in the last minute of the game. And then it locked up kind of immediately after the game,” Vogel said pregame. “He was getting treatment on it and it was really uncomfortable the last two days for him.”

The Lakers aren’t sure of where they’ll be in a week. They’re still carrying hope that they can avoid the play-in tournament, that Portland’s tough late-season schedule combined with the Lakers getting healthy will give them a chance at the sixth seed.

But if it’s the play-in tournament and if it’s the Phoenix Suns, this was a preview that had to make the Lakers feel just fine.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.