Lakers News: Darvin Ham Believes Load Management Is Allowing Anthony Davis To Play More Minutes In Postseason
Anthony Davis Darvin Ham Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis’ 30-point, 23-rebound performance pushed the Los Angeles Lakers over the top in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Davis has scored 30 points three times this postseason and almost had two other 30-20 games — he finished with 19 rebounds in one game then 17 in the other.

The Lakers needed everything from Davis, who played 44 minutes and didn’t sit during the second half. His 44 minutes are a playoff-high this year and the most since he played 46 in a December overtime loss to the Boston Celtics. Darvin Ham shared insight on his decision to extend Davis’ minutes and how them managing his minutes in the regular season has allowed for this.

“Again, I repeat, this is what load management is about. If there’s going to be load management, we have to manage their loads throughout the regular season in order for us to push them a little further during this time of year. Postseason, everything is at its peak,” Ham said. “You have to pare down your rotation and you got to push the big dogs. Your big dogs got to be there early and often. We just made a conscious decision, communicated on the sideline, and we were able to push him on through and allow him to play the full half.”

Davis’ availability in the closing minutes of the game was most felt on defense. His block on Stephen Curry with 1:08 left led to two free throws for LeBron James, and a 3-point lead the Lakers used to their advantage.

Ham made sure to acknowledge how big that play was to close the game.

“I mean, he’s elite defensively. His ability to change shots, block shots, then still gather the rebounds, that’s rare,” Ham said. “That’s rare company for guys that’s able to do that. I told him before the game, Dominate on both sides of the ball. He’s been doing that. We expect nothing less from him. We expect it to continue.”

The dominant performance from Davis put him alongside legendary names. The only other Lakers to have 30 points and 20 rebounds in a playoff game are Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. It’s a moment that Ham said is expected of Davis.

“I mean, you’re talking about top 75 players, some of the best players our league or basketball in general has ever saw in its history. Again, that’s what we expect of him. We know that’s what he’s capable of. It’s great,” Ham said. “We needed every bit of all those points and rebounds and blocked shots, assists as well. The biggest thing for us is, again, not to get happy, stay humble, respect our opponent, but also know that there’s a ton of work left to be done. It’s not the first one, not the first with the greatest performance individually. We just got to keep stacking, keep stacking days, keep coming up and putting our best foot forward.”

Davis’ game followed a night where he had 16 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in Game 6 to close out the Memphis Grizzlies. Ham deflected whether this is the best he’s seen Davis play, preferring to say it’s what he thinks he should do.

“I mean, he had some monster performances that year he was with New Orleans. All of that’s in the past,” Ham said. “He’s doing exactly what I anticipated him to do. He’s playing like the top five NBA player that he is.”

The Lakers will need more games like this from Davis to move on in the Playoffs.

LeBron: Anthony Davis’ No. 3 jersey will be retired

Former Lakers big man Pau Gasol already saw his No. 16 jersey officially go up in the rafters this season. LeBron James believes Davis is the next big man to have his retired, going as far as to say so after the Lakers’ Game 1 victory.

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