Anthony Davis’ tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers was off to an expectedly outstanding start prior to Tuesday.
But he had a truly breakout night against the Memphis Grizzlies — and set a new Lakers record in the process.
The newly acquired All-Star big man posted 40 points and 20 rebounds, all in three quarters as he rested the fourth of the 120-91 win.
Anthony Davis breaks Lakers FT record
He did most of his scoring damage from the free throw line where he connected on 26-of-27 attempts, setting a new Lakers record for most made free throws in a single game.
As remarkable as his night was, the record wasn’t the most noteworthy stat from the evening at Staples Center. It was the player whose record he broke.
The previous record holder wasn’t Jerry West or Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It wasn’t Kobe Bryant.
Wait — Dwight Howard had the record?
It was Dwight Howard — the guy who’s banging in the post off the bench now so Davis can play power forward.
Howard didn’t set the record with the Lakers this year, of course. He did so in his previous tenure with the Lakers in 2013 when he hit 25 free throws in a game against the Orlando Magic.
How did Dwight Howard — a career 56.6 percent free-throw shooter — manage to hold a free throw record on a franchise drowning in Hall of Fame scorers? Hack-a-Howard.
The Magic sent Howard to the line 39 times that night because of his well-documented free-throw deficiencies. He came through at a 64.1 percent clip.
Davis’ heroics highlight 22-0 Lakers run
Davis is most certainly not a notoriously bad free throw shooter.
He set the record Tuesday because when he’s at his best, he’s an unstoppable offensive force. He was at his best against the Grizzlies, logging his fourth career 40-20 night in 31 minutes, 12 minutes fewer than required for any of his previous 40-20 outings, according to Basketball Reference data mined by The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
First time since Shaq
In fact, according to the Lakers, he hit the 40-20 mark in the fewest minutes in the shot-clock era that started in 1954. It also marked the first 40-20 game by a Laker since Shaquille O’Neal did so in 2003.
He received a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd as he earned two more free throws to end the third quarter on a 22-0 Lakers run that put the game out of reach and an end to his night.
When the Lakers traded for Davis, this is the kind of performance fans were salivating for.
It didn’t take long for the home crowd to savor a chance to celebrate their new superstar.
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