Anthony Davis has had plenty of big games in Smoothie King Center during his career, but nothing quite like Wednesday night.
Davis his much anticipated return to New Orleans in front of a raucous crowd, putting up 41 points to help lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-110 victory — their 16th win of the season.
Davis was showered with boos all night, but it only motivated him to put up the huge stat line.
“Obviously, the emotions was high,” Davis told reporters after the game. “I think this game was circled on both calendars. And they came out guns blazing and we were able to come out with the win.”
Davis spent the first seven years of his career with the Pelicans, who selecting him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. To overcome the emotions of being booed by the fans who once adored him, Davis relied on his teammates.
“My teammates kept telling me, ‘AD, don’t worry about it. We’re going to get this win. We’ll find a way to win it for you,'” Davis said.
One teammate in particular had his back in a big way after the win in Kyle Kuzma, who called out Pelicans fans for the boos after Davis dropped 40-plus on them.
“New Orleans fans should probably boo their own team for letting him get 40 when you come back,” Kuzma said via Bill Oram of The Athletic. “I don’t know what that was.”
LeBron James Gives Shoutout to Anthony Davis Following Big Game
Following the big game, Davis’ Lakers co-star LeBron James gave him a shoutout on Instagram.
“Watching my dog close it out in his old stumping grounds,” James wrote. “Way to go to work my G. Another one for the #LakeShow. Helluva trip fellas!! Happy Thanksgiving to Laker Faithful tomorrow.”
James has played for three teams in his career, so he understands a thing or two about returning to hostile environments. He was happy to pull out the victory for his big man.
“Any time you go back to a place where you’ve made a mark, where you started your career … and gave a lot to the community and the franchise, you want to come back and play well and win,” James told reporters. “We knew that as his brothers and we wanted to try and fulfill that goal.”
Anthony Davis in His Happy Place With Lakers
Davis didn’t leave New Orleans on the best terms, making it very clear that he wanted out of town. But the Pelicans go a haul back for Davis when they did pull the trigger on a deal, getting a trio of first-round picks as well Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, who’s playing at an all-star caliber level. Ingram had 23 points and 10 rebounds against Los Angeles.
The Lakers are now 16-2 and have the best record in the NBA, but Davis appreciates the team that he came into the league with. He made clear in the postgame that he’s not hanging on to any hard feelings.
“Everyone thinks I got a vendetta against New Orleans or something like that,” Davis said. “Me and everybody is cool. … I have no ill will toward anybody. I’m in a happy place, they’re in a happy place.
“We’re just here to play basketball.”
Next up for the Lakers after the Thanksgiving holiday is a matchup with the Wizards.