LOS ANGELES: Anthony Davis delivered a 40-point haul as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a blowout defeat of the the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Davis lit up the Staples Center with a virtuoso performance, hauling down a mammoth 20 rebounds and providing 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.
Tuesday’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.
“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,” Davis said.
The two teams were level at 47-47 at half-time, but Davis seized control in the third quarter as the Lakers outscored the Grizzlies by 39-20 in the decisive passage of the contest.
“I knew we were a little bit flat early on and we needed someone to take over and give us a bit of energy and that’s what I tried to do,” Davis said.
Davis’s points tally included a remarkable 26 of 27 free throw attempts, prompting Lakers fans into early season chants of “MVP, MVP.”
Butler wows on Miami bow
In Miami, Jimmy Butler dropped 21 points on his debut as the Heat pulled away from the Atlanta Hawks 112-97 to improve to 3-1 for the season.
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 was quickly into his rhythm, nailing his first four shots and scoring 12 points in the first quarter to set Miami on the road to victory.
Butler’s performance left Heat coach Erik Spoelstra purring with delight.
“He was running around at shootaround like it was a playoff 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.
Herro’s points tally was the largest by a Miami rookie since Dwyane Wade scored 31 in his maiden season in 2004.
“That’s a cool accomplishment, but you’ve got to keep working,” Herro said.
Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo both had 17 points on a night when five Miami players made double figures.
Adebayo had another big defensive showing, pulling down 10 rebounds, making three blocks and two steals on the night.
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.