The Los Angeles Lakers trailed 103-102 with 2.1 seconds to play in Game 2 of their Western Conference Finals matchup with the Nuggets after having seen Denver erase a 16-point deficit in the second half — as has become a regular occurrence for Denver this postseason.
On their final inbounds play, L.A. put their two superstars into the action and made Denver make a quick and difficult decision. The result was Mason Plumlee going to LeBron James, who was already being faceguarded by Jerami Grant, leaving Davis with an open catch and window to shoot a deep three at the buzzer in front of a hard closeout from the side by Nikola Jokic. Davis, who was 1-for-3 on threes to that point in the game, buried the shot and gave L.A. a 105-103 win (and a 2-0 series lead).
AD WINS IT AT THE BUZZER.
OH MY. pic.twitter.com/Um2uWqjmZR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2020
After the game, Davis explained that the opportunity to take that shot in that moment was the driving factor in why he wanted to go to the Lakers when he issued his trade request from New Orleans, telling Allie LaForce he “wants the big time plays” and elaborating to reporters later that he knew this was the stage and the championship chase L.A. would afford him.
“I want those shots. I want the big-time plays.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 21, 2020
Lakers’ Anthony Davis on Game 2 winner over Nuggets: “It’s for sure the biggest shot of my career. When I left (New Orleans) I just wanted to compete for a championship. I know moments like this come with it. Especially being in LA, the biggest market in basketball.” pic.twitter.com/5FMsig4n9u
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 21, 2020
Given that the biggest remaining question Davis faced as a player was whether he could take and make these kinds of shots on a championship caliber team, taking the lead in a situation when LeBron James didn’t have it down the stretch, he answered that with an exclamation point on Sunday. Davis was the only Laker to score in the final five minutes of the game, including both of his three-pointers on the night.
It was a sensational performance, further cementing his position as not just one of the league’s most elite talents but as a player capable of stepping up on the big stage and knocking down a critical shot. As the Lakers move forward, that ability, when the focus shifts from defenses to slowing down LeBron James, will be critical in L.A.’s ability to take the Larry O’Brien trophy home from Disney to Los Angeles.