disappeared into thin air.
He disappeared under a torrent of pressure.
He evaporated amidst a mountain of howling.
He did not attend the most important signal of his career.
On the biggest night of the Lakers season, he took a vacation.
Is anyone else tired of this act Anthony Davis?
On a devastating Thursday evening in a rowdy, hostile ballpark, the Lakers’ most important player continued their long playoff trend of consistently failing to perform.
Only this time, his stumbles might have sent his entire team off the stage.
Desperate for a Western Conference Finals series with the Denver Nuggets in one game, the Lakers turned to their giant touchstone to get them through the fire.
Instead, Davies threw them into it.
Playing as invisible as possible for a guy standing at 6-foot-10, Davis had as many turnovers as baskets—four each—as the Nuggets used offense in the fourth quarter to take 108-103 victory and Edge Series 2-0 Commander.
Since 1971, teams leading two games to none in the Western Conference Finals are 56-6. the Lakers They are already on the brink. And Davies put them there.
While everyone will talk about the Nuggets’ 20-5 run in the fourth quarter with the acclaim Jamal Murray23 points in that period, none of that would have been possible if Davis hadn’t failed to match his teammates’ performances over the three quarters the Lakers had been dominating.
If Davis doesn’t shoot four of 15, the Lakers win.
If Davis collects more than one offensive rebound, the Lakers win.
If Davis scores even a iota of the 40 points he has in this series opener, the Lakers win.
If Davis is aggressive around the basket instead of allowing the Nuggets to grab nine more rebounds and score 46 points in the paint, the Lakers win.
If AD hadn’t played like the historic AD, the Lakers would have won.
Face it, this is it. Admit it, the Lakers have tied their future to a man who may not always be great, a man who dazzles far less than overwhelms him.
Indispensable game, a star does not attend? How come just two nights after he scored 40 points in the first game?
“I’ve got the same look,” Davis said afterwards. “A lot of them were just short nights. I’ll be better off.”
He really needed to be better.
Murray was terrible for most of the first three quarters, but turned it in when it mattered most. Davis was terrible for most of the first three quarters…and stayed terrible.
LeBron James He threw some terrible shots, missing all six of his three-point attempts, but finished the game in favor of an injured right foot and was clearly too sore or gassy to drive to the basket.
What was Davis’ excuse?
Austin Reeves He scored 22 points and Roy Hashimura He’s had 21, but those are the role players who aren’t tasked with carrying a team to a title. Davis is the only player who can handle that burden, and what was his excuse?
“The thing we do is we don’t get disappointed, we don’t get discouraged,” said Lakers coach Darvin Hamm. “Just compete, keep competing at a high level.”
But Davis didn’t compete at that high a level, or the Lakers wouldn’t have two losses from their season extinction.
“They did what they were supposed to do, take care of their floor, and hold the service,” Hamm said. “Now we have to fill the cups back up and do what we need to do on our floor.”
They’ll have that opportunity in Game 3 at the Crypto.com Arena on Saturday, but seriously? Even if they filled their cups, who could trust Davis not to leave it half empty?
“I loved all the looks I had today, many of them short,” Davis reiterated. “I’m going to keep hitting those shots and I have to be better and more efficient and help the team win. So, I’m going to be better.”
Maybe he will be better in the next game. But does anyone really think they can dominate enough for the Lakers to win four of the next five games?
The really annoying thing about watching Davis on Thursday night was that it was impossible not to watch Denver giant Nikola Jokic, who was pretty much the opposite of Davis.
Jokic scored only 23 points, but grabbed 17 rebounds, made a dozen assists, and made everyone on his team better.
When Davis plays like this, he makes his fellow Lakers worse.
The first quarter played tied, but the Lakers had to be content that they survived the Nuggets’ early rise even though Davis didn’t have baskets. Who knew his dryness would last?
The Lakers led by five points at halftime even though Davis only had one basket and was still looking good. Surely Davis will wake up?
The Lakers continued to roll in the third quarter, only to stumble when Davis’ last-second call allowed the Nuggets to cut the deficit to three. Again, Davis was saving his best for last, right?
Oh, so, so wrong.
In the crucial fourth quarter, while Murray was making plays, Davis was making a mess, committing three turnovers. While the Nuggets were going on offense, Davis was failing on offense, scoring only one basket that wasn’t a three-pointer.
While the Nuggets were locked down, Davis was a spectator.
Before the game, Hamm laid out the Lakers’ plan.
“First and foremost, we have to bring the juice to the table so we can compete and get the intangibles done,” he said.
Anthony Davis has not. He didn’t do any of that. once again.
On a desperate night in the playoffs, a giant disappeared, and perhaps the Lakers’ season did with it.
This story originally appeared Los Angeles Times.