Anthony Davis channels Kobe Bryant with 3 wins to put Lakers 2-0 in Western final

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla .– After his shot dropped to beat the buzzer, win the game and take the Los Angeles Lakers just two wins away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010, Anthony Davis shouted a word that said everything: “Kobe! “Davis’ left wing 3-point pointer won the game 105-103 over time, topped LA 2-0 over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, and broke the playoff record from LA at 3-0 by wearing the alternative “Black Mamba” “uniforms, which Kobe Bryant helped design several years before his death.

“Obviously we represent him,” said Davis, who scored 10 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter. “Especially in these jerseys, it’s his jersey, the one he created, and every time we put it on we want to win. ”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel reminded his team at the end of the fourth quarter of the power of their uniforms, which was echoed on TNT television in a reunion, as the Nuggets returned.

“He said, ‘Look at the shirts you’re wearing. He would have made large-scale games. So it’s time for us to make big games, ”said Davis, paraphrasing Vogel. “Just looking at the jersey and the coach telling us that is a constant reminder that Kobe is with us, and we kind of have the spirit in these jerseys. “

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., In January. The current Lakers team have dedicated the remainder of their season to the franchise star, who has played all 20 seasons of his career for purple and gold. Davis and LeBron James got tattoos to honor Bryant, the team sings “1-2-3 Mamba!” To break the nails, and players wear the snakeskin print jerseys.

They first wore them from August 24 to August 24 on the calendar, a tribute to the two numbers Bryant wore in Los Angeles – in the first round against Portland. Then they wore them for the second game in each of the next two rounds. Gianna, remembered on the jersey with a white heart with the No.2 in the middle, wore that number for her pre-season basketball team.

Davis’ shot wouldn’t have been necessary if the Lakers hadn’t squandered a 16-point lead in the third quarter and an eight-point advantage with less than three minutes left in the fourth. Denver’s Nikola Jokic scored the last 12 points for the Nuggets, including a hook shot on Davis with 20.8 seconds left to give his team the lead.

It was then that Rajon Rondo, who was not in the game at the time, told Davis it was time for him to get Jokic back. He took the ball in hand to do this.

“He came and said, ‘Another passerby? “, Vogel remembers. “I’m like, ‘Heck, yeah. Let’s go. Let’s bring him in. ‘ ”

Rondo passed the starters from the baseline with 2.1 seconds remaining. There was an option, of course, to go to James, who hit five buzzer-beating playoff winners in his career – the most in NBA history. But in the end, Rondo found a better option in Davis.

“I think I’ve made eye contact with every player on my team on this game,” Rondo said. “My first look was Kenny [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] back door. It wasn’t there. Danny [Green] back door. It wasn’t there. Bron and I looked eye-to-eye, but he didn’t move, then I saw AD come outside and just tried to get it to him on time, on target. I had Joker on me, so obviously I couldn’t throw the lob pass, and he did the rest. ”

It’s the kind of moment that makes you wonder what Davis can do with the rest of his career. He is now in his eighth season and is showing what he is capable of in big games after playing on smaller teams in New Orleans. Rondo and Jokic both called Davis, who averages 34 points from 52.3% from the floor, 42.9% from 3 and 86.4% from the foul line in the series, the best offensive player in the league. .

James recalled a left wing shot Davis missed on March 10 that would have seen the Lakers win a game against the Brooklyn Nets – which ended up being LA’s last game before the league was put on a hiatus at cause of COVID-19 – as proof of the growing confidence of the great man.

“It’s not about taking a shot. It’s about having the conviction to just take it, for one, and live with the result, ”said James. “He was down, but at the end of the day I told him, if you’re open, [shoot it] … It’s just the confidence to take the picture. ”

Now Davis has the confidence that comes from knowing he has as many winning shots in the playoffs as Bryant did, tying Bryant’s pull-up in Game 4 of the 2006 Lakers First Round Series against the Phoenix Suns.

“We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory. Obviously there are some games where we’re going to feel it a bit more than others, ”said Vogel. “When we have this uniform, I think we feel it more than others. It’s a blow Kobe Bryant would hit.

“For me AD just flew to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game of our season, just clean, it’s a Mamba shot. “

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