Eventually, it’ll be harder for the Lakers to follow this path, the one that everyone seems to agree is the one with the best chance of leading the team to a successful season.
But for now, with LeBron James on the bench recovering from a strained adductor muscle, there’s no doubt about what the team needs from Anthony Davis.
Davis being great, playing at an MVP caliber once again, is the clearest pathway to Western Conference relevance.
And, for the third straight game, he’s given the Lakers everything they could possibly need.
Davis has scored at least 30 points in the last three games, and for the third straight time, the Lakers left the court winners with a 123-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
Early in the fourth, Davis went to the bench with 30 points, 18 rebounds, three steals and a block. The Lakers were up big — so big, in fact, that Vin Diesel felt comfortable enough to come down behind the Lakers bench to say hello.
Really, for the first time this season, the Lakers looked completely comfortable for the entirety of a game, the mental lapses happening in relative blinks in between long stretches of dominance.
Just like he did in wins against the Nets and the Pistons, Davis dominated at the rim, his presence making life easier for the Lakers’ perimeter players.
“AD has to be the leading force, the leading charge just in terms of how we want to play inside and outside basketball,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said after the Lakers beat the Pistons on Friday. “Pressure on the rim, pressure in the paint constantly. … The biggest thing is we know we have to get AD going. That gives us our best chance to be successful. Everyone in that locker room knows that — player, coach and otherwise.”
The message is easier to deliver when James, one of the greatest NBA players ever, is out and Russell Westbrook is coming off the bench. And though James was technically listed as questionable throughout Sunday, Ham didn’t make it seem like much of a question pregame.
“There’s no need to be in a hurry with him. He’s going to definitely play a big bulk of games this season. It’s November,” Ham said before the win. “… So, it’s like, we have time on our side. … We just want to be as cautious as possible. So, again, it doesn’t turn into something that he’s constantly dealing with all season.”
©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.