In Monday’s win over the Utah Jazz, Anthony Davis and LeBron James became the first pair of Los Angeles Lakers teammates to each record 20 30-point games in a season since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2002-03.
Davis’ stat line on Monday versus Jazz: 42 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists in 38 minutes.
James’ stat line: 22 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists in 34 minutes.
“It means a lot to be in a category with (Bryant),” Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “I just got chills.”
Bryant died in a helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant’s daughter, Gigi, on Sunday, January 26.
His death occurred the day after James passed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s tough just talking about him,” said Davis. “But to be in a category with him means a lot. I know he’s looking down on us and cheering us on. We want to do it for him. It’s an honor to even be mentioned with his name.”
A five-time NBA champ, Bryant was the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania. Both his No. 8 and No. 24 are retired by the Lakers.
James & AD: ‘Peanut Butter & Bananas’
Earlier this season Davis told me that he was shocked by how fast he and James connected and flowed.
“I didn’t think we were going to be able to connect as fast,” he said. “Just because of the fact, he had a lot of stuff going on in the summer with Space Jam. So we didn’t get a lot of time to work out together. And then we had a short training camp, had to go to China and all of that stuff. So, I’m surprised that he had a little connection right now.
“He [James] made a joke: ‘We’re not peanut butter and jelly right now, we’re like peanut butter and bananas.’ So we’re getting there. We’re constantly getting there game by game.”
Throughout the course of the NBA season, I’ve checked in with Davis and asked him what he and James’ flow has been.
Are they yet a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Or are they more of a peanut butter and banana sandwich? “We’re still there,” Davis told me earlier this year. “We’re still peanut butter and banana.”
Lakers Have Sealed West’s No. 1 Seed
Meanwhile, back at the ranch: The current Lakers are living their best lives with a 51-15 record, having already clinched first place in the Western Conference standings.
Guided by head coach Frank Vogel, the Lakers are looking to make a deep run in the NBA playoffs this summer. Their supporting cast around James and Davis includes JR Smith, Dwight Howard, Dion Waiters, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Danny Green and Rajon Rondo, who is currently out with a hand injury.
Tonight the Lakers will play a Chris Paul-led Oklahoma City Thunder team that has played good basketball in the bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Tonight will mark the fourth meeting of the season between LA and OKC. The Lakers have won the previous three meetings.