Los Angeles Lakers: Why Anthony Davis dominated in Game 1

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Anthony Davis dominated in Game 1 of the Western Conference for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Prior to Game 1’s battle against the upstart Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel waited until the last minute to reveal Anthony Davis is NOT starting at center. This was brilliant! Here is why AD is better at power forward. 

Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers created a new word in the sporting lexicon: 1990s’d. Allow me to put the official entry on Webster’s dictionary: the Lakers “1990s’d” the Denver Nuggets with their overall physical play in Game 1.

Dwight Howard embodied the swagger and moxie of 1990’s basketball. And its utter excesses. He joined Denver’s huddle. One of Dwight; five of them. All of Denver’s players went to the ref and complained about Howard’s invasion of their supposed privacy.

The complaints about the refs are legit.

Normally, the more aggressive team always gets the calls. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in attack mode all night long. There were quite a few 50/50 calls that went the Lakers’ way. I am not saying that made a difference. It did not. The officiating led by Scott Foster, Tony Brothers, and Courtney Kirkland will be excoriated in the postgame analysis.

Still, it would not have changed the result. The Lakers simply 1990s’d Denver. Not just Dwight Howard invading Denver’s huddle. In the action as well.

Look at Dwight Howard imposing his will on poor Jokic inside.


Howard’s Game 1 performance was vintage. Not quite Superman. He had missed a few lobs he would have had 10 years ago. But Clark Kent could not have blocked Jokic like that.

Even Clark Kent could explain why Howard helped AD score 37 points. He and Javale McGee guarded Jokic for most of the game, which freed up AD to focus on dominating the “other guys” on offense, like Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant without expending valuable energy guarding Jokic.

Side note: Yes. Markeiff Morris is still a starting-caliber player. The Houston series was always temporary. Micro Ball quickly rendered JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard unplayable. Markeiff Morris was the perfect starter alongside LeBron and AD in that particular series. Javale McGee and Dwight Howard are better fits alongside AD against Denver.

Defense wins championships. Offense will win this series.

AD proved to be unstoppable on offense when he sets his mind to it. A slimmed-down Jokic or four-time all-star Paul Millsap or even Nuggets defensive stopper Jerami Grant clearly does not stand a chance against him when he is this decisive.

Denver better double. Otherwise, (Mickey) Mouse in the house!

Obviously, Denver is going to start double-teaming AD off the dribble. Decisions must be made a bit quicker. One of AD’s subtle flaws is his tendency to aimlessly dribble the ball in circles when he gets double-teamed off the dribble. The Indiana Pacers took full advantage of this (minor) weakness in a ho-hum regular-season game.

This is fixable. Timelier cuts will conjure up quality open looks. Howard and McGee just need to start their cut from the elbow as opposed to staying on the block. It is imperative they perfectly time their cuts as soon as their man rotates on AD.

Lakers coach’ Frank Vogel will look to ruthlessly hunt Jamal Murray on pick-and-rolls as the series progresses. Murray has defended admirably in the playoffs. He has no chance of stopping LeBron James or Anthony Davis attacking the basket.

AD especially. No one on this planet can consistently guard him. If Denver starts to double AD, Lakers’ big men can feast on lobs from LeBron James. LeBron will have a field day, relentlessly attacking Denver’s scrambled defense off the catch.

Jokic got in foul trouble having to either guard AD or help off his man to stop LeBron or AD. I think going bigger got him the quick fouls early. He is just not used to dealing with people as tall and long as AD, McGee, and Howard.

Kawhi Leonard and Montrezl Harrell, both 6’8″ on a good day, guarded Jokic late in the game. The Clippers usually sent another defender to double Jokic. It was pointless to double him with shorter guys because he could just see over the defense.

The Lakers are tall enough to at least block Jokic’s line of sight. AD at power forward gives Jokic a much tougher time firing his signature passes to cutters. Yet another big man with incredible length gives Jokic much smaller targets.


Jokic is a one-of-a-kind passer. Guarding him straight up is HUGE for the Los Angeles Lakers’ defense going forward. Denver will inevitably adjust. Those adjustments have to be made on defense. They cannot do any better on offense, especially if Jokic only plays half the game due to foul trouble.

Next. 40 greatest Lakers of all-time. dark

Can they do this? I am very excited for this series. On to Game 2!