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How Lakers’ Anthony Davis dominated third quarter vs. Suns

The explanation for why Anthony Davis was so much more of a force in the third quarter than he had been in the first half was something Lakers coach Darvin Ham was more than willing to share.

“His dumb-ass coach just started calling his plays more, calling his number more,” Ham said.

That drew laughter from the coach and the media.

The ball finding Davis more in the third quarter led him taking 10 shots, making six and scoring 14 points in 11 minutes. In 17:35 of the first half, Davis took just six shots, made three and scored seven points.

D’Angelo Russell explained what he saw out of Davis in that third quarter.

“[He] dominated,” Russell said. “Dominant .… And he dominated from inside, outside. They were sending the double on the dribble. He was going fast. He was getting to the free-throw line. He just dominated the game and you all saw it [from the] front row.”

Even with all that, Davis was efficient, taking just 18 shots, making 10 and scoring 27 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists in the Lakers’ 122-111 win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at Arena.

And it turns out Ham and Davis did have a chat at halftime.

“He and I have talked and I told him, ‘I’m going to force feed [you], man, and just be aggressive. Don’t even worry about it. Just be aggressive going to the rim,’” Ham said. “And he did that tonight. He had a swagger about him. He wasn’t settling. He’s one of the best mid-range shooters I’ve ever been around, more than capable of knocking down threes. But again, he was loving and living in the paint tonight and that’s the AD we need. That’s the AD that’s going to … that aggression and him forcing his will, forcing them … knowing they can’t guard him.”

Anthony Davis dunks the ball in front of Phoenix’s Jock Landale.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Midway through the third quarter, Davis demanded the ball, obviously aware that Suns backup center Jock Landale was defending him.

Russell passed the ball inside to Davis, who quickly spun to the baseline, took two dribbles and threw down a one-handed reverse dunk.

Davis yelled as he ran down the court. His teammates leaped off the bench to celebrate with him.

“I don’t care if it’s a dunk or whatever. I just want to be able to put the ball in the basket and do what I have to do for the team,” Davis said. “And obviously being more aggressive like I was in that third quarter helps, not only myself, but the entire team, because it kind of opens things up for all the other guys. But like I said early on, some good looks, but the game was going for everybody else, and then in the third quarter, it was more like, ‘All right, AD, this is your turn, it’s your time now, so go ahead.’ We had a good game plan. It kind of worked out for us.”

Davis played 38:17 and the Lakers needed all he had to give in improving their record to 36-37 and putting them in 10th place in the Western Conference, the last play-in spot.

The Lakers need Davis more than ever with LeBron James (right foot soreness) still out.

So, when Davis was asked to become the man in the third quarter, to be the leader, to be more forceful, he was up to the task.

He said it was a “little bit of both,” of him asking for the ball and Ham imploring him to take more shots.

“He made an effort to call all my plays basically the whole third quarter,” Davis said. “And do different looks to give me the ball when they couldn’t double. And then it was me just being like, ‘OK, now go score.’ And the coaching staff and the other four players on the floor were doing a good job of putting me in situations to be effective, and now it’s my job to be effective. It was a little bit of both, with my mind-set of coming out and being aggressive at the half, and also coaching. Even our point guards, Dennis [Schroder], DLo [Russell] and AR [Austin Reaves] were also on the defensive end anytime [the Suns] scored or we rebounded, they’d slow it down and it’s, ‘AD, what you want?’ And we’d get into it. I just had to make a play out of it.”

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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