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Anthony Davis seeks redemption after off night in Game 2 loss

Anthony Davis sat at his locker with his head down and his arms folded. His lips pursed and his eyes narrowed, he leaned back in his chair and raised his arms above his head before closing his eyes for a few seconds.

This forlorn look from Davis didn’t stop in the Lakers locker room. He carried the same despondent look while sitting next to LeBron James at the postgame news conference.

Davis had a subpar night for the Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, and his body language told the story of how he was feeling.

He did not play up to his standards and that played a role in the Lakers losing 103-93 to the Grizzlies at FedExForum.

He missed 10 of 14 shots, had just 13 points and nine rebounds, and was a minus-four rating.

The Lakers return home to play Game 3 at Arena on Saturday night, and Davis is looking for redemption.

“Wish I could play tomorrow,” said Davis, his voice low. “Get home, a couple days of rest, a couple days of film and I’ll be ready for Game 3 for sure.”

The Lakers trailed by as many as 20 points in the third quarter to a Grizzlies team playing without its best player, guard Ja Morant, who reinjured his right hand in Game 1.

The Lakers got as close as six points in the fourth quarter before faltering and allowing the Grizzlies tie the series.

“That’s all we can ask for, fight,” Davis said. “Obviously, I can be better. … Can’t have a night like I had tonight and expect us to win. But we’ll look at the film for the next couple of days and be ready for Saturday. Make some adjustments and try to get a win at home.”

When Davis got up to leave for the postgame interview, James pointed to his teammates’ eye.

There was some blood below his right brow, some dripping down his face.

Davis had been elbowed in the face during the game and this was just another reminder of how bad things were going for him.

He was asked if the eye bothered him during the game.

“No,” Davis said.

Davis was one-for-nine shooting in the first half, his night beginning the wrong way.

He even had a couple of shots blocked.

“I like all the shots I took. I just missed them,” Davis said. “A lot of shots close to the rim I normally make, go in. Flush it and get ready for Wednesday … or Friday, Saturday … whatever day we play.”

That will be Game 3 on Saturday, with Game 4 on Monday night, also at Arena.

Davis’ teammates still like what he did on defense, his five blocked shots making him the first Laker since Shaquille O’Neal in 1998 to have five-plus blocks in consecutive playoff games. Davis had seven blocks in Game 1, the first player in the NBA to accomplish this feat since Brook Lopez in 2019.

The rest of the Lakers will look for ways to get Davis more involved in the offense.

“Just try to make it easier for him. Get him the ball in better spots,” Austin Reaves said. “We got him the ball in a couple of tough spots where he had to try to make a shot over two or three people. So, just giving him a little more space and opportunity to play his game. He’s got so much talent that if you give him that he’s really hard to stop. But they did a good job defensively.”

In past playoff series with the Lakers, when Davis had bad games, he showed the ability to lift his spirits and that of his teammates with a better performance the next time out.

When the Lakers played the Suns in the 2021 playoffs, Davis had 13 points in Game 1, his mood downcast then. But he recovered to score 34 points with 10 rebounds in Game 2 and 34 points with 11 rebounds in Game 3.

The Lakers will need Davis to be a force the rest of the way in this best-of-seven series. They still have home-court advantage after winning the series opener.

“If this were the NCAA tournament, I’m sure my mood would be a lot different,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “This is the first of four, not the first of one or two or three. We anticipated a really grueling series. This team (Grizzlies), again, there’s a reason they are who they are. They have a lot of pride, a high, high, elite competitive spirit. Extremely talented roster. We knew we were going to have our hands full.

“Again, we were able to do some great things in Game 1. Game 2, not so much. Didn’t start off the right way, but we kept at it, kept competing. Holding this team to 103 points, even without Ja, is a hell of an effort. I’m sure AD will play better.”

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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