Basketball

Anthony Davis dazzles as LA Lakers rout Memphis Grizzlies

Forward becomes first Laker since Shaq to hit 40 points & 20 rebounds in a game

Anthony Davis scored 40 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in 31 minutes, as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a blowout defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Davis lit up the Staples Center with a virtuoso performance, which also included two assists as the Lakers romped to a 120-91 victory.

His display relegated LeBron James to a supporting role, although the veteran superstar still chipped in with 23 points and eight assists.

Yesterday's game was a welcome distraction for James, who had been forced to evacuate his Brentwood mansion early on Monday as wildfires tore through nearby hills and canyons in Los Angeles.

Davis, meanwhile, was happy to take centre-stage with a display that made him the first Laker to record 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game since franchise legend Shaquille O'Neal.

It was only his fourth game for the Lakers, but he already joins legends George Mikan, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and O'Neal as the only Lakers to accrue such numbers.

"It's an honour," said Davis.

"Great company. To be here part of this franchise and do something special like that and be on that list with those legends, means a lot to me. But what's more important, I'm happy that we got the win."

The forward played despite a sore shoulder he hurt in Sunday's win over the Charlotte Hornets. He exhibited discomfort throughout the game, but played through it.

"Just wanted to play hard, wanted to go out there and help my team win, and whatever I needed to do, that's what I tried to do," he said.

The two teams were level at 47-47 at half-time, but the 26-year-old seized control in the third quarter, as the Lakers outscored the Grizzlies 39-20 in the decisive passage of the contest.

"I knew we were a little bit flat early on. We needed someone to take over and give us a bit of energy, and that's what I tried to do," Davis said.

MVP

His points tally included a remarkable 26 of 27 free-throw attempts - a franchise record - prompting Lakers fans into early season chants of "MVP, MVP".

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, while Avery Bradley added 12 for the Lakers, who won their third consecutive contest.

Rookie point-guard Ja Morant scored 16 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies. Grayson Allen scored 13 points.

In Miami, Jimmy Butler dropped 21 points on his debut, as the Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-97.

Butler had missed the first three games of the campaign due to the birth of his daughter, but showed no signs of rustiness in a solid first outing.

Butler's performance left Heat coach Erik Spoelstra purring with delight.

"He was running around at shootaround like it was a play-off game," Spoelstra said.

"He was just so excited to have an opportunity to finally get started in the regular season."

Miami, though, were anything but a one-man band, with Tyler Herro leading the scoring with 29 points and Goran Dragic adding 21 points, both from the bench.

In Denver, the Dallas Mavericks relied on all-round offensive effort to give them a 109-106 win over the Nuggets.

Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr top-scored with 14 points apiece as nine players cracked double digits. - AFP, REUTERS

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