Given how extraordinarily competitive the majority of professional athletes are, the Los Angeles Lakers’ series defeat to the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals has to sting. After all, seeing the Lakers rescue their season all the way from a 2-10 record to coming eight wins away from an NBA championship only to see their hopes crumble in the end has to hurt. Even Anthony Davis, downtrodden as he might have been, acknowledged the reality of the situation.
Speaking with reporters following the Lakers’ heartbreaking 113-111 defeat to the Nuggets to cement the Purple and Gold’s sweep at the hands of Nikola Jokic and company, Davis admitted that while it hurts, they must use this defeat as fuel to bounce back stronger next season.
“It hurts right now. It’s tough. Credit to Denver — they’re a great team. Their players played well throughout the series. It hurts, it stings, [but] you gotta carry it into next season and use it as fuel,” Davis said, per Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet.
Anthony Davis, in particular, might be especially hard on himself after he failed to put up the best of games to give LeBron James the help he needed to steer the Lakers to victory. Davis’ first three quarters were especially rough, putting up just 11 points on an unsightly 3-12 shooting from the field all the while James gave it his all.
Davis may have bounced back in the fourth, scoring 10 points on perfect shooting from the field and line, but by then, the Lakers were already on the backfoot. It didn’t help as well that Davis fouled Jamal Murray on a three-point attempt with the game tied at 102 with 4:42 left in the fourth quarter; after Murray made all three freebies, that’s when the Nuggets began to pull away.
With LeBron James’ future status uncertain, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers operate this offseason. Given this unexpected development, Anthony Davis must brace himself for a future where he’s the undisputed best player in Purple and Gold uniform — and that includes having to use their shortcomings against the Nuggets as motivation to avenge their playoff heartbreak.
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