Anthony Davis Takes Blame For Lakers' Game 1 Loss to Suns: 'This One Is On Me'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 23, 2021

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 23: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns during Round 1, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2021 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Anthony Davis had a rough go of it in the Los Angeles Lakers' 99-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, scoring just 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field. 

After the game Davis held himself accountable, saying he was primarily to blame for the Game 1 loss:

We Believe Faigen @hmfaigen

AD is still confident moving forward.<br><br>"I know I'll be better, I know we'll be better in Game 2 as a whole."

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Davis did say it "felt great" to have the playoff atmosphere and hear the Beat L.A. chants from Suns fans.

LeBron James came to his defense after the game, telling reporters "it's never just one guy, but I love when AD puts that pressure on himself. We're a better team when he's aggressive... But we've all got to be better as well."

"He always responds," James added. "And when AD is AD, we're the Lakers."

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel also defended Davis:

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Frank Vogel, on Anthony Davis' struggles today.<br><br>"There's ways we can be better to take advantage of him. We'll look at the tape and be better in Game 2."

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Major theme of postgame from Vogel is that they felt like the rest of the team did not do a good enough job of taking advantage of the extra attention the Suns were sending at Anthony Davis. Mentioned it in nearly every answer.

Perhaps the bigger concern for the Lakers than the poor-scoring night was that Suns center DeAndre Ayton (21 points, 16 rebounds) absolutely beasted the block for Phoenix, getting the better of whichever center the Lakers threw his way. 

Bill Oram @billoram

Anthony Davis was a game-worst minus-18 in his 39 minutes.

Tom Haberstroh @tomhaberstroh

Anthony Davis is shooting 10/54 (18.5%) from 3 since returning from his Achilles injury. Leaving a bunch of them short. A big reason why I picked Suns in 6: Anthony Davis hasn’t been right all season.

Rob Perez @WorldWideWob

Anthony Davis isn’t this disengaged by accident. Had the life pummeled out of him by Deandre Ayton on both ends all damn day. Can’t believe i just typed that sentence and it’s actually true but give the man his credit, looks so improved from his rookie season.

That position remains a question mark for the Lakers, who are pretty clearly the most dangerous when Davis plays at the 5. But the Lakers have abstained from playing him primarily at center, instead giving him minutes at the 4 to avoid the wear-and-tear that comes with banging in the paint on every play. 

But every other option the team has at center brings its own questions. The offense has less flow with Andre Drummond in the middle. Montrezl Harrell gets picked on defensively. Marc Gasol has largely fallen out of the rotation.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

Yeah I mean, in general, I think they should go with AD at the 5. But if they’re set on playing big, I feel like I’d rather have the passing/skill out there.

It wasn't an issue during last year's postseason, when the Lakers largely could play smaller against opponents who didn't have dominant centers (save against the Denver Nuggets, who simply didn't have an answer for James or AD on the other end). 

That won't be the case against Phoenix if Ayton continues to play at a high level. That will leave the Lakers with a crucial question—go back to Davis at the 5 and live with the physical play he'll endure, or hope that one of the other center options plays at a high level?

Granted, none of that matters if Davis doesn't raise his level of play. His past excellence would suggest he will. Just don't expect the Suns to make life easy on him.