Anthony Davis Folded When It Mattered Most For the Lakers
Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers were afforded a tremendous opportunity. If they beat the Dallas Mavericks, they'd be in the driver's seat for the contentious No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket. The Lakers and Mavs help make up a group of seven teams that are all jostling for position in the bottom half of the standings. Four of those teams (Warriors, Blazers, Wolves, Pelicans) lost before the Lakers game ended. If the Lakers managed to defend their home court they would've earned the tiebreaker with the Mavs and gone up a game on everybody next to them in the standings.
In short, this was Los Angeles' only scenario where winning one game would set them up to go on a deep playoff run. Playing as the six seed would mean avoiding the play-in tournament and the very top of the playoff bracket. A few more extra days' rest for LeBron James and an ever-so-slightly more favorable matchup could make all the difference in the world for this new-look Lakers squad that has played quite well since the trade deadline. The stars aligned for them in such a way last night that winning one game would move them closer to that goal than any stretch of wins that came before.
And of all people, it was Anthony Davis that let them down.
Simply put, Davis choked hard in the final minute of last night's contest. There's really no other way to look at it. The Mavericks should not have even had a chance at the buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave them the win. They were down four with seven seconds to go, but Davis forgot all basketball discipline for just one second and nailed Maxi Kleber as he was coming down from his jumpshot. Three free-throws to Dallas and suddenly it's a game.
AD was granted an immediate shot at some redemption as he was fouled on the inbounds after Kleber hit his freebies. Two shots for Davis with the Lakers up one. He missed one of two. As you can see from this video it is not the first time AD has sunk his team with iffy shooting from the stripe.
For those keeping track at home Davis cost his team a point and gifted the Mavericks three in a game the Lakers lost by one. If it weren't for the foul on Kleber, the Mavs would never have been close. If it weren't for the missed free-throw, the game would've gone to OT or ended in regulation.
It is fair to point out that the Lakers almost certainly would not have been in this situation without Davis' 26 points and 10 rebounds. But superstar players are supposed to step up when it counts. Instead, AD made critical mistakes at the worst possible times and it cost his team maybe their most important win of the year.
He has plenty of time to make up for it. But, man, that's a tough one to swallow.