Anthony Davis’ game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer was a shot “Kobe Bryant would hit”, according to Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
Live NBA: LA Lakers @ Denver GM3
Wednesday 23rd September 2:00am
Davis has never been this deep in the playoffs, never had the chance to take such an important shot. It’s nothing new for the Lakers, though.
When Davis’ triple swished through the net as time expired to give the Lakers a 105-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals, Vogel thought of a Laker who had done it before.
“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit,” Vogel said. “To me, AD coming off, just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it’s a ‘Mamba shot’.”
The Lakers were wearing their ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys. They were co-designed by Bryant, their Hall of Fame guard who died January 26 in a helicopter crash. Davis said wearing the jerseys that mean so much to the team made his winner feel even better.
“In the jersey we wore tonight, it just makes it even more special,” he said.
Davis finished with 31 points. He scored Los Angeles’ last 10 points and had 22 in the second half to help the Lakers avoid becoming the latest victim of a Denver comeback.
Asked in a post-game interview about his game-winning shot, Davis said: “We ran a play, it was supposed to be for ‘Bron (LeBron James). I looked at (Rajon) Rondo the whole time. People talk about never being in this moment, pressure, am I ready for it? I want to take those shots. It’s part of the legacy. I want those shots. I want the big-time plays.
“We are going to live or die with me taking game-winning shots. I made it. This is what what they bought me here for – to make big-time plays.”
“Special moment for a special player. Happy to be a part of it,” said James, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds.
The Nuggets had trailed by as much as 16, but Nikola Jokic scored 11 straight Denver points down the stretch, including a basket that made it 103-102 with 20 seconds to play.
Alex Caruso then missed a three-pointer and Jamal Murray blocked Danny Green’s shot out of bounds with 2.1 seconds to play. Rajon Rondo inbounded under the basket and found Davis curling towards the sideline. The All-Star forward swished it to put the Lakers halfway to the NBA Finals.
Jokic said there was miscommunication on the final play, when it appeared center Mason Plumlee let Davis drift free believing there was going to be a switch. Jokic raced out to him, but too late.
“Great players make great shots and he did it, so he’s a really good player,” Jokic said.
Jokic had 30 points and nine assists, and Murray scored 25 points.
The Lakers said Davis was just the seventh Laker to make a buzzer-beater in the playoffs, a list that includes Bryant. The other players on the list are Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Metta World Peace.
Game 3 takes place in the early hours of Wednesday morning (2am) and you can watch it live on Sky Sports Arena.