Anthony Davis loses 55 points and grabs 17 rebounds in Lakers win

WASHINGTON, DC — When the ball went through the basket late in Sunday’s fourth quarter — Anthony Davis’ 20th field goal made for his 49th and 50th points of the night — the Capital One Arena crowd let the guest down Los Angeles Lakers big man hears their appreciation.

“MVP! MVP! MVP!”

Davis, who ended LA’s 130-119 win over the Washington Wizards with 55 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots, doesn’t just hear the praise from the fans.

“Jayson Tatum is playing his ass off, but when you’re talking about people in the MVP race or in the MVP category, that’s probably going to change after tonight,” Lakers starting guard Patrick Beverley said. “[Davis] should definitely be up there.”

LeBron James, who finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists, echoed the sentiment.

“He was amazing, man,” James said. “On both sides of the floor. I mean play like the MVP of this league. Just pure dominance.”

Davis’ performance against the Wizards was one of the best in the veteran’s 11-year career. It was the second highest points he has ever had and most he had in a Lakers jersey when he joined Shaquille O’Neal as the only player with consecutive games to have 40+ points and 10+ rebounds for the purple and gold.

It had been three decades since a player in the NBA had a stat line of 50 or more points, 15 or more rebounds, and three or more blocks while connecting on at least 70% of their shot attempts, as Davis (73% of the Field), Patrick Ewings mirrored the 50 points, 71% shooting, 15 rebounds and three blocks the New York Knicks star put up on December 1, 1990.

As amazing as his individual numbers are, Davis said his sole focus remains on team performance.

“To win a championship,” Davis said when asked if his goals for the season now are to win his first Larry O’Brien Trophy. “That’s it. If you’re intent on winning a championship, the rest will take care of itself. That’s always been my thought. I put the team before any individual awards or accolades associated with it. So if we continue what we play and win basketball games, the rest takes care of itself.”

Sunday marked the Lakers’ third straight win and their eighth win in their last 10 games to push their record to 10-12 — just two games behind the defending champions Golden State Warriors, currently No. 6 in the Western Conference.

The Wizards’ win capped a great stretch for Davis, whose highest career finish in the 2017-18 MVP poll was third place when he played for the New Orleans Pelicans.

In his last nine games, Davis averaged 35.3 points at 64.8% from the field, 45.5% from 3 and 88% from the foul line while averaging 15.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per night . Lakers coach Darvin Ham said things changed for Davis once he was able to fully recover from the lower back pain that plagued him in training camp and that his performance and confidence have only improved since then.

“The most important thing is his health,” said Ham. “I think he feels great, his body feels great. He had some back problems early on but he worked through it and you can see it on his face as well as in his game. He is having fun playing basketball pain free. And the boys know that. They know I make him my number one priority when it comes to who we have to play through.”

James said part of his responsibility is to keep in touch with Davis to let him know how much he means to the Lakers franchise.

“I think we all need a reminder of that sometimes,” James said. “No matter how good you are, no matter what you set out to do in life, we all need reminding at times of why you are here and what your abilities are and how much we believe in each other.

“As a team leader, part of my job is making sure to reassure AD how great he is, how great he is in this league, not just for this team but for this league.”

The Lakers are eager to go as far as Davis will take them.

“He totally picked up the torch and is running with it,” Ham said. “And he takes us on the ride. It’s really great to see.”

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