Anthony Davis rising to occasion with LeBron James sidelined

When LeBron James went out with a right foot injury last week, all eyes turned to Anthony Davis to guide the Los Angeles Lakers into playoff contention.

So far, Davis has met the occasion. 

Following a 38-point performance in the Lakers’ loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Davis collected 39 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 113-105 win over Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. 

Davis scored 15 points in the first quarter Sunday, going 5-for-7 from the field. And as Golden State overcame an early deficit, Davis scored 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting in the final frame to hold off the Warriors.

Shannon Sharpe called Davis’ performance “phenomenal,” and after Davis shot 25 times on Sunday — he made 14 of those shots — Sharpe said he wants to see Davis continue to be more aggressive from tip to final whistle. 

“I know AD’s going to give me what AD’s going to give me on a nightly basis with no LeBron,” Sharpe said on Monday’s “Undisputed.” “So, at the bare minimum, AD should shoot 20 times. I don’t care if they’re up by 40 or if they’re down by 20. AD should shoot the ball at a minimum of 20 times. Ideally, somewhere around 25. That’s a nice, sweet spot for AD.”

Anthony Davis leads Lakers to win vs. Warriors, spoiling Steph Curry’s return

Sharpe mentioned that the Warriors in particular are a good matchup for Davis because they lack a player with the length and versatility to counteract him, including former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green

“You’re going to put Draymond Green [on Davis]?” Sharpe said. “Draymond is a tremendous defender, but once AD gets the ball … Draymond has no chance whatsoever of stopping Anthony Davis.”

“One night, [Davis] can give you 55 [points] and 17 [rebounds], ,then the next night he’ll give you 12 and six,” Sharpe said. “It’s the up and downs that I can’t live with. He’s immensely talented.”

The Lakers have gone 2-2 since James went down with that foot injury, moving them into a tie with the Utah Jazz for the 10th seed in the Western Conference — the final play-in spot. 

Skip Bayless believes that Davis is “capable of carrying this team at least into the play-in,” and if he does that, the Lakers could be bad news for the rest of the league if James returns later in the season. 

“Eight of the next 10 games are at home,” Bayless said. “You should win six out of those eight. And if you do, you’re going to stay afloat. 

“We don’t know when LeBron is coming back. But I’m here to tell you that if in a month or so he comes back, and they’re hanging right in there and LeBron comes back in full force, rested and revitalized, I wouldn’t wanna mess with [the Lakers].”

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