Stephen A. Smith obliterates Anthony Davis for performance in Lakers debut vs. Nuggets

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their regular-season opener against the Denver Nuggets 119-107.

LeBron James had himself a solid all-around performance in the loss, as he finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists and converted 10 of his 16 field-goal attempts. But the Lakers’ other superstar, Anthony Davis, put together a forgettable showing.

The big man ended up with 17 points but made just six of his 17 shots from the field. Additionally, he scored zero points in the second half.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith appeared on “First Take” on Wednesday and destroyed Davis after his lackluster game against the Nuggets.

“Atrocious, very concerning,” he said of Davis’ scoreless second half. “Ladies and gentlemen, you just saw the reason why the Los Angeles Lakers ain’t gon’ win no championship this year. … I’m so ticked off at Anthony Davis right now. It’s an embarrassment what happened with him yesterday. We gotta call it like we see it, okay? When this brother brings his A game, he’s one of the top seven players on the planet Earth. Charles Barkley calls him Street Clothes. I said, ‘No, I call him Six Flags.’ He’s a roller coaster. He’s up and down. You never know what you gon’ get. He’ll drop 40 one game. He’ll drop 11 the next like he did between Games 1 and 2 of the postseason last year. I believe it was against Denver. You turn around, you got 17 points in the first half, okay? In the second half, let’s look at the numbers. Second half, 18 minutes, zero points.”

Davis played in five of the Lakers’ six preseason games and scored 13 points or more in all of his appearances. Arguably his best preseason performance occurred against Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 19, the Lakers’ preseason finale.

He logged 15 points and a whopping six blocks in 23 minutes of playing time and also knocked down half of his 10 field-goal attempts. The Lakers lost to the Suns by 23 points, though.

The big man is in his fifth season with the storied Lakers franchise after spending the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the New Orleans Pelicans, who drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.

He averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 blocks per game in 56 appearances with the Lakers during the 2022-23 regular season (54 starts). Additionally, he shot 56.3 percent from the field (a career high) and 25.7 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Davis has long been criticized for his inconsistency, but he has a history of raising his level of play when the stakes are at their highest. For example, Davis was flat-out dominant against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals. He averaged 25.0 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, and the Lakers eliminated the Heat in six games to win the title.

If it weren’t for Davis’ two-way contributions, the Lakers might not have been crowned NBA champions back in 2020.

The 30-year-old big man will have a chance to redeem himself for his underwhelming game against the Nuggets when the Lakers take on the Suns on Thursday.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.