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Anthony Davis stats, Lakers, Suns

4 mind boggling Anthony Davis stats in insane Lakers game vs. Suns

The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to face off against the Phoenix Suns in the first round. That matchup may have sounded daunting to Lakers fans, but L.A.’s resounding 123-110 wire-to-wire victory over Phoenix highlighted why they need not fear: Anthony Davis, officially, is here.

Davis needed six games to find his form after returning from a 30-game absence due to a calf strain on April 22. Two weeks later, it’s safe to say — to borrow a favorite Frank Vogel phrase — the ramp-up is complete.

Over his last three full games (excluding an early exit vs. the Los Angeles Clippers for back spasms) Davis has resembled the dominant two-way All-Star who co-led the Lakers to the 2020 NBA championship.

Across Monday’s crucial win over the Denver Nuggets and the gut-wrenching loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Davis tallied 61 points and 19 rebounds.

On Sunday, Davis smoked the Suns — who entered Staples Center as hot as their nickname — like barbecue chicken, and he may have resuscitated the Lakers’ repeat quest in the process.

AD didn’t just produce his finest outing in months: He was at his absolute best. The superstar posted 42 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks. He hit 13-of-27 from the field and led the Lakers with a plus-26.

Per StatMuse, AD became the first Laker with 40/10/5/3/3 in a game since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001. According to Lakers PR, Davis became the first player in franchise history with at least 42/12/5/3/3 in a game. In 79 minutes over the past two outings, Davis — who endured relative offensive struggles prior to his injury — pocketed 78 points.

“I think my mindset has changed, too, being in attack mode,” he acknowledged. “Earlier, I was trying to look at the bigger picture and trying to get guys involved and letting them get accustomed to our system and so my mindset of attack mode, attack mode, attack mode was off a little bit.”

Sunday marked Davis’ seventh career game with at least 40 points, three steals, and three blocks. Since the mid-1980s, only one other hooper has pulled that off: Michael Jordan (14 times, LOL).

Those statistical accomplishments are not only amusing; they reflect a return to Elite Unicorn status that Davis will need to perform at for the Lakers to hang banner No. 18 — especially if neither James nor the chemistry is in ideal shape.

Against Phoenix, Davis was aggressive from the get-go, and the Lakers followed his example. L.A. never trailed in the game, and Davis never let up.

“Just a sensational performance by Anthony,” Vogel said. “He really leads with his play, as much as his voice,” Vogel added. “He’s really rallying guys … he sets a tone for us with his assertiveness. When he comes to play the last two games looking to dominate, everybody else gets a little more air in his chest.”

On offense, Davis was in his bag. He hunted isos, face-ups, and paint attacks. He was looking to make plays, too, running 4-5 pick-and-rolls with Marc Gasol, Andre Drummond, and Montrezl Harrell. Before the third-quarter buzzer, he found Ben McLemore on a decisive zip for a corner triple.

He was even more destructive on defense.

Without having seen Space Jam: A New Legacy, I’m going to say Davis channeled his Goon Squad Big Birdwho must be adept at flying around the court and using his wingspan and spatial coverage to wreak havoc. Against Phoenix, he was a Monstar.

“I feel good,” Davis said. “I’m getting my legs back. I’m getting my rhythm back, I’m getting my steps back on both ends of the floor. …We’re headed in the right direction.”

Beyond the three blocks and three steals, Davis hurled himself after rebounds and seemingly found a way to contest every single Suns shot attempt. (Note: I did not check Second Spectrum on that.)

For 41 minutes, he pushed, shoved, and discarded the Suns’ interior players, drawing 17 free throws in the process (he made 15) — his second straight game shooting at least 15 freebies. In one instance, he quick-jumped three times to grab a board — a good sign for the calf.

Davis saved his best for last — perhaps the most positive sign for his conditioning. Shortly after Phoenix closed the gap to eight points, Davis laid out for a 50/50 ball. On the next play, he rejected a corner 3-pointer. (In between, he went crashing into a courtside wall, earning a whistle.)

He punctuated his masterpiece with a reverse alley-oop and-1 to seal the deal and send a message: He’s back.

However, it was one of his rejections — a spectacular chase-down block on Jae Crowder — that signaled to Davis that he was truly himself again.

“The lob, I can do that. But the chase down really made me feel that I’m back,” Davis said.

“We know we can switch with him … and we don’t have to help as much because we know he’s gonna get the chase-down block,” said Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. “I thought he was back Portland game, he defended well there, but he knows himself. Tonight he was all over the place: rebounding, block shots, even diving on the ball.”

“That’s the silver lining that no one’s really talking about right now,” Vogel pointed out. “We’ve been playing every-possession-matters type of basketball, which is what the playoffs are like. That what the playoff intensity is about. The urgency that we’ve been forced to play with has come out in Anthony’s performance the last couple games and I think it’s going to benefit the whole group.”

With James (ankle) and Dennis Schröder (health and safety protocols) still out, the Lakers need Davis to be a top-five star as they try to escape their play-in destiny.

Even so, they might not be able to do it. In his pregame remarks, Vogel acknowledged that a top-six seed “looks unlikely.” The Lakers sit two games back of the No. 5 seed (Dallas Mavericks) and one behind the No. 6 seed (Blazers), with neither tiebreaker and four games remaining over two back-t0-backs — including a Tuesday showdown with the hard-nosed New York Knicks.

After the win, Davis provided Lakers fans with bonus material to ease their Sunday Scaries, hinting that James — who may return on Tuesday — is showing encouraging progress behind the scenes.

“What I see from LeBron today, he’ll be fine,” Davis assured. Both KCP and Vogel co-opted Davis’ confidence.

Regardless of health, chemistry, or lineups, the Suns have nobody to check Davis. Deandre Ayton aspires to be a defensive anchor of a long-term contender, but the 22-year-old isn’t there yet. Monty Williams’ next best options are Frank Kaminsky and Crowder.

The Lakers are now 1-2 vs. Phoenix in 2020-21, but an emphatic 1-0 with Davis involved. The Suns don’t want a fourth matchup, no matter who suits up alongside Davis.

“The beast is waking up,” Caruso said. ‘We’re starting to see vintage AD.”

Watch out, NBA.