By Tim Reynolds/AP Basketball Writer
Anthony Davis is healthy. His numbers have never been healthier.
And, not coincidentally, the Los Angeles Lakers are playing like the team they expected to be.
With 99 points in his last two games – his most ever in a span of two regular-season contests – Davis is doing something that few in the league’s history have done before. He shot 40 for 57 from the floor in those games, his 44-point performance at Milwaukee on Friday was followed by a 55-point outburst at Washington on Sunday.
“Body feels great, in the gym working on my game, we’re coming together collectively as a unit, so everything is going well for us right now,” Davis said.
The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games, 7-2 when Davis plays in that span. For some perspective, before this stretch, they were only 7-20 in Davis’ last 27 appearances _ much of that because either he, or LeBron James, or both were either sidelined by injuries or trying to play through them.
But, finally, Davis – who was limited to 60 games over the last two seasons _ has his health and his game back. He’s averaging 28.6 points, a league-best 12.8 rebounds, and doing it all on 59% shooting. All three of those numbers are on pace to be career-bests for the eight-time All-Star who is making an early run at getting into the MVP conversation.
“The first and foremost thing is his health,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “I think he’s feeling great. His body is feeling great. He had a few back issues early on and he’s worked his way through them. And you can see it in his face as well as you can see it in his play – he’s having fun playing the game of basketball pain-free.”
The Lakers are two games into a six-game road trip that continues Tuesday in Cleveland, a homecoming for James, the former Cavaliers star and northeast Ohio native who is now within 1,000 points of catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring record.
But right now, even he’s pointing to Davis as the league’s top player.
“He’s been unbelievable on both sides of the floor,” James said. “Playing like the MVP of this league. Straight dominance. Straight dominance. … I just think he’s hit a switch where he knows how dominant he can be, night in and night out.”
Davis is the 25th player in NBA history to score at least 99 points in a two-game stretch; Wilt Chamberlain did it 92 times, which is almost double the amount of times the other 24 players have done it combined.
But this run by Davis is set apart by the accuracy of his shots. He’s only the fourth player to score at least 99 points in a two-game span while shooting at least 70% from the field; Elgin Baylor had three of those streaks, Chamberlain had two and David Thompson had one.
“For me, it’s just being locked-in, staying with a mindset of being aggressive, not taking a game off and coming out with a mindset of dominating and doing whatever I’ve got to do to help the team win,” Davis said. “Whatever it is, I’m just trying to do my part.”