LOS ANGELES — Anthony Davis scanned the halftime stats Wednesday night in his debut playing at Staples Center in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform and noticed an uneven equation: He had only six points on 2-for-4 shooting, yet the Lakers were up 26 points on the Golden State Warriors.
He told LeBron James it was the first time in a while that has happened for him.
“It takes a load off me,” Davis said after the Lakers’ 126-93 win — their third in three tries against the Warriors this preseason. “It feels good knowing that you don’t have to do much, everybody has a role, and when you have guys all over the board who can score the basketball, you don’t need to do everything every possession.”
He might not have needed to, but Davis did plenty just the same, finishing with 8 points, 8 assists, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks in his first game action since spraining his right thumb in the first quarter of a game against the Brooklyn Nets in China last weekend.
“He has seen multiple defenders for seven straight years in New Orleans. He is able to read the defense. He can create for himself any time,” said James, who led L.A. with 18 points and 11 assists in 25 minutes. “There are not many guys in our league that can affect the game the way AD does. He can score, rebound and pass. He just does it at a high level.”
L.A.’s offense was sharp all night, racking up 33 assists on 49 made field goals as it shot 59.8% from the field, including 50% from 3 (15-for-30).
Four other Lakers scored in double digits, led by Avery Bradley with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting (4-for-5 from 3). Dwight Howard scored 13, JaVale McGee scored 12 and Quinn Cook scored 16 points in 15 minutes off the bench, playing for the first time this preseason because of a calf strain.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel says he believes that nights like Wednesday will continue for James and Davis during the season, with each of them leaning on the other to reduce their workloads.
“It doesn’t have to always go through LeBron like it has with teams past, and it doesn’t always have to go through AD,” Vogel said. “Quite frankly, even when those guys are out, I love the role players that we have and their ability to carry the load as well. Whether it’s having two lob threats, and playing the spread game. We’ve got a number of shooters out there that can make you pay when we force help, and there’s a lot of experience on our club, so hopefully the usage and workload will be spread out.”
James was asked how he felt about Davis easing his responsibilities as he enters his 17th season months away from his 35th birthday.
“My perspective, personally? It sounds good. It sounds good,” James said. “I saw a stat earlier today where I have 7,000 miles more than Vince Carter or something like that. He’s like seven years older than me.”
Not that James is complaining.
“I’m born to have workload,” he said. “It is who I am, both on and off the floor.”
In less than a week, that workload will intensify, with the start of the regular season against the LA Clippers on Tuesday.
The Lakers are inviting what comes next.
“We are just playing together, playing for each other,” Davis said. “It’s going to be a fun year, the way we are moving the basketball, the way we are playing defensively, helping each other out. It is going to be fun. We know it takes all of us to win. We are trying to set a standard right now.”