LOS ANGELES – Ahead of the matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, Anthony Davis’ playing status was very much up in the air due to a shoulder injury. Davis’ shoulder became a hot topic with some believing he’d ultimately be watching from the bench, but that didn’t turn out to be the case, and history was made for the Los Angeles Lakers franchise shortly thereafter.
Although it was a rough first half for the Lakers in which the Grizzlies weren’t willing to give in to their talented counterparts, Davis was on his game from start to finish or in 31 minutes to be exact. The Lakers superstar came out aggressive and stayed that way as he lived at the free-throw line.
“I try to get to the line,” Davis said after setting the franchise record for free throws made. “They’re free points. It’s really the only time where you don’t have a hand in your face. Every time I step up to the line, I try to calm down. Like I said, they’re free points.”
Memphis had no answer for the perennial All-Star, and he made them pay with 27 attempts from the charity stripe. Davis missed only one of these attempts on Tuesday, setting a franchise record for free throws made with 26. Ironically enough, this historic performance broke the record that one of his current teammates held and was set back in 2013. Dwight Howard set the franchise mark against the team that drafted him in the Orlando Magic back in March of that year when he hit 25 of his attempts.
The Lakers had only five players go to the line, with LeBron James being the only one with more than three attempts outside of Davis. Los Angeles went 33-for-39 from the free-throw line with Davis, obviously having the bulk of those shots (26).
As if the trips to the charity stripe wasn’t impressive enough, Davis also had 20 rebounds in the 31 minutes he was on the floor. This put Davis is elite company as he became the first Lakers players since Shaquille O’Neal with 40 points and 20 rebounds. Shaq accomplished that feat in 2003 against the Boston Celtics.
Along with Shaq, Davis accomplished something another legendary Laker was only able to do in 33 or fewer minutes. In 1961, Elgin Baylor scored 46 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in 33 minutes.
“It’s an honor,” Davis said of being mentioned with these Lakers greats. “Great company. You know, to be here part of this franchise and do something special like and be on that list with those legends, it means a lot to me, but what’s more important, I’m happy we got the win.”
A remarkable performance, to say the least for the Lakers newcomer and perhaps a glimpse of things to come. Davis has shown he can play consistently at a very high level, which is an encouraging sign for this team that has the sole goal of winning a championship this season.