Anthony Davis came up big in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, scoring the last 10 points for the Los Angeles Lakers. Of those was the dagger 3-pointer at the buzzer to retake the lead 105-103 over Denver as time expired.
With two seconds to go, no timeouts, and LeBron James cold in the fourth quarter, you couldn’t help but wonder who Rajon Rondo was going to inbound the ball to. Would he go to James, feed the hot-hand Davis, or would someone else get open and take the shot?
As the play started, a miscommunication between Mason Plumlee, who was guarding Davis, and Jerami Grant left Davis seemingly wide open to knock down a rhythm jumper he was more than capable of making.
Ironically enough, Kyle Kuzma’s game-winner against the Denver Nuggets during the Lakers' eight-game season restart was the result of a miscommunication that led Plumlee to leave his man open.
The Lakers are undefeated while wearing the Black Mamba jerseys. Laced in Kobe V Bruce Lee’s, Davis appropriately exclaimed, “Kobe,” after channeling his inner-Mamba and hitting that game-winner.
This buzzer-beater put Davis' name in a special class in Laker history. He is now the seventh player in the franchise to hit a game-winning playoff buzzer-beater.
The last buzzer-beater by a Laker in the playoffs came from Ron Artest in 2010 (formerly known as Metta World Peace and currently known as Metta Sandiford-Artest) with a rebound and put-back shot against the Phoenix Suns. The last 3-point buzzer-beater, though, dates back to Robert Horry’s infamous shot in the 2002 WesternConference finals against the Sacramento Kings.
Davis' shot did have a more recent deja vu moment for Lakers fans. Not of earlier in the fourth quarter when Davis hit a step-back three in the same area, but rather a pre-pandemic memory of a game played before the NBA season was put on hold.
The last game the Lakers' played before the four-month hiatus, Davis missed what would have been a game-winning buzzer-beater against the Brooklyn Nets in the very same spot on the court at the Staples Center.
Davis reflected on that moment postgame, stating, “I missed the shot, I was upset at myself. [James] said we’re going to live and die with you shooting that shot, and I got that same opportunity tonight.”
Questions have been lingering all season of whether or not he was ready for that big moment and if he had the right killer mentality. During the halftime show, former player and NBA analyst Charles Barkley criticized Davis for having just nine points midway through the game.
Davis finished the game with 31 points and responded to Barkley’s criticism by saying it’s the result of him over-thinking his game. He also said he acknowledges the team is more successful when he comes out aggressively.
His teammate Rajon Rondo said that this “was the biggest shot of his life so far.” Game 3 is set for Tuesday night against this resilient Nuggets team that will be looking for retribution Anthony Davis will need to keep performing at a high level in these high-pressure moments if he wants to silence the critics and secure his first NBA championship.