Forward Anthony Davis dropped 30 points and 22 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Lakers secure a 112-103 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham mentioned how he nicknamed him “Wilt” after NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain.
“He’s playing like a monster,” Ham said. “It’s so fun to watch him just play free, play happy and just make plays all over the place, whether it’s sprees, whether it’s finding the open man, doing a little bit of everything and he’s been tremendous.”
The win came on a historic night as two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol had his no. 16 jersey retired. The four-time All-Star was an integral part of the Lakers’ championship runs in 2009 and 2010. His late teammate and best friend Kobe Bryant nicknamed him “The Spaniard.” Gasol’s jersey is next to Bryant’s no. 24 jersey.
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“The anticipation, the excitement, the honor received it’s so big to me that it’s been really hard to take in,” Gasol said. “It’s amazing that you can experience this in your life and have so many people around you that have followed you and have joined you and be next to you on your journey.”
Several of his former Lakers teammates attended the game including Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujačić, and Jordan Farmar. Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler used his day off to be in attendance. He and Gasol played on the Chicago Bulls together for two seasons.
In his jersey retirement speech, Gasol noted how he wished that Bryant was in attendance, not just in spirit, but in person.
“He definitely inspired me, showed me what it took to be the best player you could be, the work ethic, the dedication, the mindset going into it,” Gasol said. “He challenged me to be better.”
Gasol is the first international player to have their jersey retired with the Lakers, he is also the first player from Spain to win an NBA championship. Davis expressed to Gasol his hopes for his no. 3 jersey to be retired.
Pau & Kobe pic.twitter.com/j47t2gixIW
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 8, 2023
“It’s a huge honor to be up there with the greats,” Davis said. “He deserves it.”
Throughout the night, Davis battled against Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who scored 26 points. Los Angeles had an eight-point run deep in the fourth quarter which helped secure the victory. The Lakers are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference.
“It starts with our defense,” Davis said. “And then just pushing in transition and we’re playing the right style of basketball, nobody is being selfish, we’re trying to make the right plays and guys taking rhythm shots.”
Forward Rui Hachimura and guard Austin Reaves came off the bench to score 17 points each. Reaves noted how communication has improved their defense.
“I feel like we’ve had really good dialogue from All Star break,” Reaves said. “There’s been a lot of conversation during games, halftime, on the bench, just trying to figure one another out.”
The Lakers will host the Toronto Raptors on March 10 at 7:30P.M.