Anthony Davis wanted to be the one to take the last shot Sunday night, to show he can thrive on a big stage.
When he got the opportunity, he did not miss: a nothing-but-net 3-pointer as time expired to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Nuggets and a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.
Davis, for all his talent and regular-season achievements, still needs to impress the “ringzzzz” and “clutch” crowds as he plays in his first conference finals. He took a major step in that direction with his rainbow over Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
“People talk about never being in the moment, pressure, am I ready for it? I want to take those shots. As part of [my] legacy I want those shots, I want the big-time plays,” he told TNT’s Allie LaForce in an on-court interview after the game. “We’re going to live with me shooting the . . . game-winning shots, [and] I made it.
“This is what they brought me here for, to make big-time plays.”
Davis got an open look when Denver failed to switch onto him on an inbound play that began with 2.1 seconds remaining. The Nuggets wound up double-teaming LeBron James as Davis curled to the left wing. Rajon Rondo hit him with the pass and Davis followed through.
“We ran the play, it was supposed to be for Bron. I looked at Rondo the whole time,” Davis said.
The Lakers brought in Davis to form a superstar 1-2 tandem with James. Davis can’t shake the sidekick label with James around, but AD played like the No. 1 option in the closing minutes Sunday night. He scored LA’s final 10 points, helping to keep up a team that was sagging under the pressure of another Denver second-half comeback. He finished with a team-high 31.
One huge shot later, that comeback is mostly forgotten. More importantly, the Lakers are two wins away from a trip back to the NBA Finals.
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