He was frequently beaten to the boards by Ayton, who out-rebounded the superstar, 16-7, including eight on the offensive glass that led to 12 points for Phoenix.
On offense, Ayton had his way inside, hitting 10-of-11 field goals for 21 points — all around the rim.
BIG Game 1 for @DeandreAyton.
— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2021
On the other side of the ball, the Lakers' eight-time All-Star finished with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Davis attempted just five free throws on the day — an indicator of his surprising lack of aggression.
Accordingly, AD took responsibility for the Lakers' subpar showing.
“I missed a ton of shots,” Davis said in his postgame remarks. “We missed a ton of shots as a team. Scored 90 points…gave up eight offensive rebounds to Ayton alone…We played good defensively and we gave them a ton of points as well…We just have to be better on that end, but there's no way we're winning a game, let alone a series, with me playing the way I played.”
“So this one is on me. I take full responsibility, for sure.”
Ayton repeatedly beat the Los Angeles bigs down the court in transition, as Phoenix led the way in fast-break points, 16-9.
Deandre Ayton is WORKING. 10 points in just seven minutes 💪https://t.co/ZH3oRt78E3
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 23, 2021
Davis admitted that he never found a groove at Phoenix Suns Arena.
“Usually, I come out the gates very dominant. I think today, we had it going. ‘Bron hit a couple threes, we get into the paint, Drum. So I kind of just got lost in the offense. But I still have to be assertive, find ways to get the ball. It just kind of took me out of rhythm. But it's on me. I still gotta find a way to make plays on that end of the floor.”
The undersized Suns pulled down 14 more rebounds than the Lakers and outscored Los Angeles 52-44 in the paint. Phoenix recovered 34.7% of their own misses, which would easily lead the league.
Los Angeles missed nine layups, 11 free throws, and shot 7-of-26 from three-point range (Davis missed his only two attempts).
Anthony Davis isn’t this disengaged by accident. Had the life pummeled out of him by Deandre Ayton on both ends all damn day. Can’t believe i just typed that sentence and it’s actually true but give the man his credit, looks so improved from his rookie season.
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 23, 2021
Vogel credited the Suns' defense on Davis in the wake of his 42-point, 12-rebound, three-steal, and three-block performance the last time the two teams squared off, in Los Angeles.
“Phoenix brought a lot more attention to him, obviously because of that game,” Vogel said. “They did a great job, give them credit. They did a good job limiting his touches and then bringing double teams when he did get it and making things difficult for him. But, there's ways we can be better to take advantage of him. We'll look at the tape and be better in Game 2.”
LeBron James praised Davis's willingness to shoulder the blame, though he knows the Lakers' disappointing showing stretches beyond the star big-man.
“It's never on just one guy, but I love when AD puts that pressure on himself,” James said. “We're a better team when he's aggressive. We're a better team when he demands the ball. But we all gotta do our jobs a lot better, as well.”
Despite all the issues, the Lakers still held a top-six Suns offense to 99 points — 16 below their regular-season average (115.3).
For Game 2 on Tuesday (7 p.m. PT), Davis vowed to turn the page and bring a different energy.
“Like I say: it's on me. I'm not too worried about my performance. I know I'll be better, I know we'll be better in Game 2.”
I wouldn't doubt it.