OKLAHOMA CITY — Anthony Davis hit a season-high four 3-pointers, including a clutch four-point play with less than 3 minutes to go, in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 130-127 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. And the team is urging Davis to let it fly even more often from the outside.
“We want him to take more 3s,” said LeBron James after Davis went 4-for-7 from 3-point range against the Thunder. “Teams are playing off of him, and he’s too damn good of a shooter not to shoot them. And he’s been doing that the last couple games.”
Davis was coming off a 3-for-5 night from deep against Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Before the 7-for-12 outburst the past two games, Davis was just 8-for-32 from 3 on the season.
Entering Friday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel wanted to push Davis’ limitations as a stretch big, challenging him to get 12 3-pointers up against the Thunder.
“Coach told me to stop hesitating,” Davis said. “When I hesitate, I’m going to come up short or [have] a bad miss. I feel like if I’m open I’m going to shoot it. No hesitation. And seems to go in a lot more when I’m not hesitating.”
Davis credited Rajon Rondo and Lakers assistant coach Mike Penberthy, who was known as a marksman in his playing days, for getting his shot back on track with extra work hoisting game-simulated shots after practice this week.
“He’s already a matchup problem for anybody in the league,” Rondo said. “When he’s stretching the floor with the 5s, with his 3-point shot, the sky’s the limit for our offense. We’re going to continue to get better at putting points on the board.”
Indeed, L.A. stroked a season-high 17 3-pointers against the Thunder, connecting on 54.8% of its 31 attempts.
None was bigger than Davis’ four-point play with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, when he received a James dish in the corner and then absorbed a foul from Steven Adams as he let the shot go.
“I was just spacing,” Davis said of the play. “[James] wanted me to space and bring [Kyle Kuzma] in the pick-and-roll. … I knew if he threw it I was going to shoot it. I was able to shoot it and get the bounce.”
Davis had another four-point play in the third quarter. In 479 career games coming into Friday, he had yet to convert a four-point play, according to Second Spectrum. He now has two in 480 career games.
His shot was even more locked in from the free throw line. Davis went 11-for-11 from the line, including going 4-for-4 in the final 10 seconds to ice the win. It was the sixth time this season he was perfect from the charity stripe.
Davis, who also set a Lakers record by going 26-for-27 from the line in a game this season, said his free throw routine in practice is to make at least 24-for-25 to finish his shooting practice. If he hits 23 or fewer, it’s back to the line to take 25 all over again until he gets to 24.
“There’s no one like him in the NBA,” Vogel said. “That’s how unique it is. And the amount of the ways he impacts the game, both at the basket and shooting the 3-ball — four 3s, two 4-point plays tonight — and elite defense all over the place. It’s something special.”
The Lakers’ offensive outburst came at the expense of their defense, allowing a 5-10 Thunder team to score 127 points on 52.7 percent shooting, but the disparity is something they’re aware of.
“We’ve got to play better defense,” Lakers guard Danny Green said bluntly.
But with a league-best 13-2 record and their prize offseason acquisition in Davis continuing to show off his game, there isn’t much to gripe about in Laker Land.
“Our job’s to go out on the floor and perform and win ballgames,” Davis said. “As long as we keep doing that there’s really not too much anyone can say.”