Los Angeles Lakers need championship to reach this Anthony Davis roof | Bleacher report

Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers have understood what it will take to defeat the Houston Rockets in their second-round playoff series: too many Anthony Davis.

Due to Houston’s unconventional, super-small formula, which features 6’5 “PJ Tucker at center, the series doubles as a fight for the soul of NBA center. And after Tucker, Davis has the Rockets in Rockets Closed as. On Friday, it appeared, though the Houston experiment might work. Davis scored 25 points in that game, but was unable to keep up with Tucker or aggressively claim his will.

With a 117–109 Lakers victory in the series on Sunday, Davis was the force of nature he could be and would need to stay up every night for this team, which is deeply flawed outside of himself and LeBron James, of his championship. To reach the roof.

His box-score numbers jump off the page. He finished in 15-of-24 shooting with 34 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. But it was the way he got his points that made the difference.

This time, Davis returned to his roots, propelling small, fast rockets into the paint. He took just one, three-pointer to his average of 3.5 attempts per game.

“I’m trying to stay as near to the basket as possible,” Davis said after the game in its virtual media availability.

Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel put forward his usual starting lineup with Davis and center Jewell McGee, but it proved to be wrong. Davis spent a lot of the game playing center to counter Houston’s small lineup. Even when McGee left the game with an ankle injury, Davis remained on the floor with Dwight Howard completely out of the rotation.

Keeping him with James and with him guards Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso and forward Kyle Kuzma allowed Davis to work unevenly in the paint on both ends of the floor. The Lakers’ starting lineup was minus-8 on Sunday night, while their most used Davis-at-center lineup was James, Kentavius ​​Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo and Danny Green plus-7.

“He’s clearly the Defensive Player of the Year in my mind,” Vogel said. “No disrespect to Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. He just covers so much ground. “

The Lefters led by as many as 16 points, but the Rockets opened the third quarter on a 14–0 score, as they missed the first half by three points. Vogel’s reinvestment in Rondo and Caruso’s lineup stabilized the defense, but everything started and ended with Davis on Sunday.

“They are a three-point shooting team,” Davis said. “They’re going to shoot a lot, and they’re going to make some. Our job is to get it out of the rim and push. … They were able to run us from the three-point line. We didn’t compromise for the threesomes. Did. We looked for something easy on the rim.

Davis is certainly the most talented player James has ever played with, and the two are able to do a lot about the Lakers’ shortcomings regardless of whether Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope are hitting shots and how effective McVay and Howard are at night. Tonight. But Davis’ aggression came and went.

Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

On Sunday, the Lakers got the version they traded for, which could make or break their title chances.

Vogel said, “The way we need to play against this team, if we are going to double the way, you will need people who can put hands on the perimeter and guard it.” “If you have small people around him, he can cover more ground.”

The Davis Center does not have a Lakers catch-all solution as the playoffs progress. In other matches, especially if they reach the finals and face the big Toronto Raptors or Miami Heat, McGee and Howard’s game makes sense. This year, along with James, Davis, and McGee, they outscored opponents in the regular season by 5.9 points per 100 and 21.6 in the playoffs.

But against this Rockets team, which has found an effective wrecking ball inside Tucker, but still lives and dies by the trio, Los Angeles’ best bet may be to continue playing Davis at center and Let him work in the basket. Vogel insisted that the Lakers’ centers would still have a spot in this series, but at least for now, his team has found a formula for overcoming rocket speed.

That formula includes an eyebrows and a lot of room. This is why James and the Lakers will need a full path.

Shawn Highkin covered the NBA for Bleacher Report. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and lives in Portland. His work has been honored by the Pro Basketball Writers Association. Walk on it Twitter, In Instagram and B / R apps.