LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t Anthony Davis’ idea to score 50 points Sunday in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 142-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Avery Bradley first suggested it to him at halftime, when Davis was already up to 27 points. DeMarcus Cousins then encouraged him to keep chasing it during second-half timeouts. And finally, Rajon Rondo instructed him to go get one more bucket when his point total was up to 48.
“The team was telling me, they weren’t telling me how much I had, but they were saying, ‘Get 50,'” Davis said after logging the fourth 50-point game of his career. “Usually I don’t really pay attention. I just go out there and play and try to get the win. But it’s hard when your teammates are constantly reminding you, ‘Go get 50! Go get 50!’ So they made sure I was constantly reminded.”
Sunday’s result was a reminder of just how well the Davis and LeBron James pairing is going, as the Lakers won their fourth straight game to improve to a league-best 21-3.
James, who finished with 32 points (including a 6-for-8 mark from 3) and 13 assists, was no slough either. He assisted on eight of Davis’ field goals, including setting up the one that gave Davis the half-century mark with a 7-foot floater over the Wolves’ Jordan Bell.
It was the most assists he has had to any one teammate in a game this season and the second most to any teammate in a game in his 17-year career, according to research by ESPN Stats & Info. (Last March, he dished 10 assists to JaVale McGee.)
“For me and AD, we just, it starts with us,” James said. “If we’re on the same page it makes it a lot easier for the rest of the ball club, and that’s both on and off the floor. So we’re just trying to lead by example, lead by command, lead by our voices, lead by our play and see where it takes us. It’s been pretty good for us so far.”
Davis became just the second teammate of James’ career to score 50 in a game. Kyrie Irving did it twice for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2014-15 season. One of those games, James didn’t play in and the other went to overtime.
Davis did his damage in 39 minutes, going 20-for-29 from the field and 10-for-10 from the line.
“Just keep feeding him,” James said. “He was efficient all night. Getting the ball exactly where he wanted it: mid-post, low post, perimeter. He can do it all, so it’s our job to continue giving him the ball.”
It was Davis’ third game with 40-plus points this season, and it came on the heels of a 39-point effort in Portland on Friday. He and James became the first pair of Lakers teammates to combine for 70-plus points in back-to-back games since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
“The first thing that sticks out to me is that he has four steals, a block and great defense for all 39 minutes he was out there,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He played strong on that end of the floor and anchored us, and to still go for 50 in what I feel like is an old school, smash mouth way of getting 50 — no 3s? Right? [He shoots] 20-for-29 and then living at the free throw line. Post-ups, offensive rebounds, crashes, all those types of things. Just an old school performance and one for the ages.”
The mark puts Davis in great company, becoming just the 11th player in the Lakers’ franchise history to put up a 50 piece.
“It means a lot,” Davis said. “There’s some greats to come through there and to be in the class with guys like that, especially so early in my career, my first year here, it’s humbling and I’m definitely excited to be in that class.”
The performance brought to mind Rondo’s statement this week, declaring that Davis is on pace to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year this season. Davis said Rondo told him the same thing when they played together in New Orleans a few years back.
It would seem that the rest of the Lakers are on board with trying to make that statement a reality.
“I think the best thing about what happened today is he has the opportunity to just be great every night, no matter if he’s making shots or not,” James said. “Just his presence alone and us as his teammates just continue to make him comfortable. He’s great. There’s nothing more you can say.”
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