Predictably, the Los Angeles Lakers — playing without LeBron James (left knee soreness, “day-to-day”) — were blown out by the Philadelphia 76ers, 105-87, at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday. Arguably, though, it was a good night for L.A. Anthony Davis is back.

In his second game back from a 17-game absence, Davis scored 31 points on 14-of-21 shooting, to go along with 12 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals in 34 minutes. His jumper looked smooth, his physique looked lean, and he embraced the challenge of going toe-to-toe with one of the game's most dominant big men.

Davis thoroughly outplayed Joel Embiid, who still finished with a respectable 26/9/7 and tw0 blocks on 9-of-2o shooting.

“I thought he played really well,” Frank Vogel said. “It was good to see him get in a rhythm, competed and made some terrific plays on Embiid … Anthony played a hell of a game on both sides of the ball.”

He impressively blocked Embiid on two occasions — on a jumper (somehow) and on a drive.

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“Fun to battle on both ends, me guarding him, him guarding me,” Davis said postgame. “Any time we have a chance to play against someone like that, always try to have fun with those matchups. And unfortunately, we just couldn’t get the win.”

He looked like Bubble AD: one of the premier two-way players in the history of the sport.

“I feel really good on both ends of the floor. My body feels great.” Davis said. He gave a similarly promising report after the win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis is talking about his left knee there, but he did have another injury scare in the first half. He fell on his wrist and went to the locker room to get it iced and taped. He underwent an X-ray, which showed no fracture. Afterward, he said it was a “little sore” and was “bothering” him towards the end of the game. He wasn't sure if he would play in Friday's matchup at the Charlotte Hornets.

“On the play, on the back cut, got the pass from (Talen Horton-Tucker) and dunked it and Embiid tried to block it,” Davis recounted. ‘Body contact, go to the ground and try to catch myself, landed on my wrist. Nothing wrong with it. … Just a soft tissue injury, soreness and stuff.”

“Wake up tomorrow, see how it feels, and kinda just play it by ear,” Davis said. “Go from there.”

Unfortunately, the Lakers' supporting cast — including Russell Westbrook (20 points, three assists, six turnovers) — didn't produce enough to buoy Davis' efforts. The inconsistent play of the role players has been a theme of the Lakers up-and-down 2021-22 season.

Los Angeles shot 6-of-29 from three. Malik Monk (11 points on 3-of-13 shooting) was the only other player to score in double-figures.

Then again, the Lakers were probably never going to beat a near-full-strength Sixers group without LeBron James, in any scenario.

Ultimately, if the Lakers (24-25) are going to approach their goal of competing for an NBA championship this season, they will need Anthony Davis to play as he did in Philly. They have a long way to go until then, but Thursday provided reasons for hope.

“There's reasons why we keep saying we're optimistic about what we can do this year,” Vogel re-iterated. “Seeing Anthony play that way reinforces our belief.”

If nothing else, they can take solace in that.