LOS ANGELES (AP) – Anthony Davis is four games into his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and he’s already in good company.
Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan, Shaquille O’Neal — and now AD.
Davis had the fourth 40-point, 20-rebound game of his seven-year career and set a franchise record with 26 made free throws as the Lakers rallied in the second half for a convincing 120-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
He joined those Laker greats as LA players to get 40 points and 20 rebounds.
“It’s an honour to be on that list with those legends but more important is we got the win,” said Davis, who was 26 of 27 from the line. “It was a grind in the first half and my teammates trusted me. I just tried to be a monster on the glass.”
It is Davis’ first 40-20 game since 2016. He’s the first Laker to do it since O’Neal in 2003.
Davis played only 31 minutes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player to have a 40-20 game in 31 minutes or less since 1954-55. Prior to Davis, the quickest 40-20 game was 33 minutes by Baylor in 1961.
Davis is also the fourth player in league history and first since Michael Jordan in 1987 to make 26 or more free throws.
“This solidifies why we went out and got him. He was big time for us,” said LeBron James, who scored 23 points for the Lakers. Los Angeles is off to its first 3-1 start since winning its first eight in 2010.
Davis was questionable two hours before the game due to a right shoulder injury suffered in Sunday’s win over Charlotte. He did some dribbling and shooting on the court before being cleared.
Davis had 16 points and nine rebounds in the first quarter but went back to the locker room at the start of the second to get the shoulder checked and re-taped. Coach Frank Vogel thought he might have to go the rest of the game without Davis until he saw him come back to the bench.
“He gutted it out playing in some pain and was dominant. They didn’t have an answer and he was terrific,” Vogel said.
Los Angeles trailed for most of the first half but took a 49-47 lead into the locker room at halftime when Davis grabbed a rebound, drove down the court and tipped in his own miss at the buzzer.
The Grizzlies (1-3) led 65-59 with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter when the Lakers went on a 27-2 run to close out the quarter. Davis scored 16 points during the rally, with all but two coming at the line. The final 10 Lakers’ points in the quarter came via Davis’ free throws.
“Everyone was playing well,” Davis said. “I was just trying to be aggressive. It was a close game until the third quarter. I knew some of their players were in foul trouble and tried to get them out of the game. “
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins agreed with Davis’ sentiment, saying “I thought he was super aggressive, and you are rewarded when you are aggressive.”
Davis said his shoulder was still sore after the game, but he thinks it will improve since the Lakers have a couple days off.
Memphis raced to a 15-2 lead before Los Angeles started to work its way back. Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 16 points, and Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points and 11 boards.
Morant, who was the second pick in the June draft, had only three points in the first half before finding his groove in the second. “Coming into an environment like this we have to play all four quarters,” Morant said. “It was wow moment coming in (facing James and Davis) but I was still trying to go out and play my game.”
Grizzlies: Memphis finished 22 of 23 from the line but was 7 of 34 on 3-pointers. … Grayson Allen came off the bench to score 13 points. Dillon Brooks’ four-point play early in the first quarter was the third of his career. That ties him with Shane Battier and Troy Daniels for second in franchise history behind Mike Conley’s seven.
Lakers: Avery Bradley had 12 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 11, with all but one coming in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles finished 33 of 39 on free throws.