The burden to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs fell squarely on Anthony Davis’ shoulders the moment LeBron James went down with a foot injury. With The King reportedly out for at least three weeks, the Lakers need every win they can get so they can keep pace in the race for at least a play-in tournament berth. And on Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, Davis showed that he’s more than capable of shouldering this major responsibility.
Despite taking a massive blow to the nose after a violent swipe from David Roddy that caused him to bleed, it was Davis who dealt the final blow as the Grizzlies continue their massive tumble. Davis ended up tallying 30 points, 22 rebounds, and two blocks on 11-17 shooting from the field to lead the way for the Lakers en route to a 112-103 victory that puts them at ninth in the Western Conference standings.
In fact, Anthony Davis’ performance was so impressive that, on the night when Pau Gasol saw his jersey go up on the Crypto.com Arena rafters, head coach Darvin Ham compared him to yet another Lakers legend. Speaking with reporters after the game, Ham invoked Wilt Chamberlain’s name in describing how well AD played on Tuesday night.
“Wilt. That’s my nickname for him: Wilt Davis,” Ham said, per ClutchPoints beat reporter Michael Corvo.
It’s incredible that Anthony Davis is able to play at this level when it was just three months ago when he faced considerable uncertainty for the 2022-23 season after suffering a foot injury. As one may recall, Davis was playing at an incredibly high level before that inopportune injury. Back in early December, AD tallied the Lakers’ first 50-point, 15-rebound game on 70 percent shooting from the field or better since Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the feat in 1969.
Even then, Davis was not alone in leading the Lakers to victory. Four other teammates of his scored in double digits, with Dennis Schroder, Rui Hachimura, and Austin Reaves scoring 17 points apiece.
Nevertheless, with how congested the West playoff picture is at the moment, Darvin Ham may need Anthony Davis to continue channeling his inner Wilt Chamberlain if they were to cement themselves as a true playoff team.