Embarrassed Davis tells Lakers: We're not a championship team right now

By Sports Desk November 13, 2021

Anthony Davis has warned the Los Angeles Lakers they will not be NBA title contenders this season if they do not improve on their "embarrassing" form.

The Lakers lost 107-83 at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday to fall to 7-6 on the year, despite playing 10 of their first 13 games at Staples Center.

Only once previous have the Lakers won the title after making a 7-6 start, improving to 57-25 in 2007-08 to take the top seed in the West.

Even with LeBron James closing on a return from injury, such a turnaround looks unlikely this year as things stand. Three of their seven wins have come only after overtime – a league high.

Davis, who led the team with 22 points against the Timberwolves, is certainly concerned.

"We've got to decide who we want to be," he said. "A championship team? That's not us right now. We're not winning a championship the way we're playing.

"We've got to be better, and we've got to care more for our wins at home, wins in general. That was embarrassing."

LA have been especially poor in the third quarters of games, a theme that continued against Minnesota.

The Lakers scored just 12 points and allowed 40 for a differential of -28, their second-worst in any single quarter since at least 2002-03 (-31 in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013-14).

The team are a combined -83 in third quarters this season, the worst record of any team in any single quarter in 2021-22.

"We sucked," Davis said. "No defense, can't score. That's not just this third quarter, it's every third quarter we've played this season.

"We come out slow, lackadaisical offensively and defensively. We've got to get it together. Why? I can't tell you. But we've got to do a better job."

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    Since that goal against Portsmouth up until the day his second spell at United ended (November 23, 2022), Ronaldo had more shots from direct free-kicks than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

    Of the 645 shots Ronaldo had, 41 resulted in a goal. That is from 700 club games, across stints at United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

    On the face of it, that goal tally does not stand out as particularly impressive, at least given the fact that Ronaldo netted 619 times in total.

    Yet he is behind only Lionel Messi (who else?) when it comes to goals from direct free-kicks, with the Barcelona great scoring on 51 occasions from such situations.

    That gives Messi an 8.1 per cent conversion rate from free-kicks in that timeframe, in contrast to Ronaldo's 6.3 per cent.

     

    Naturally, given their status in the game, Ronaldo and Messi will almost always pull rank when it comes to set-pieces, especially at a free-kick in a dangerous position.

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    Neymar's 13 goals from 147 attempts gives him an 8.8 per cent success rate, while James Ward-Prowse's 12 per cent (15 from 125, though this figure of course does not account for his strike against Everton earlier in January) is close to double what Ronaldo managed.

    Indeed, when ranked against players from Europe's big five leagues that scored 10 or more direct free-kicks between January 31, 2008 and November 23, 2022, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dani Parejo had lower conversion rates than Ronaldo.

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    One of the greats?

    As well as his effort against Portsmouth, Ronaldo has many other memorable free-kicks in the bank.

    His stunning, 40-yard strike against Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League semi-final; a mesmerising hit from even further out in a Madrid derby in 2012; and who can forget that spellbinding, hat-trick sealing effort that secured a last-gasp draw for Portugal against Spain in a 3-3 thriller at the 2018 World Cup.

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    While he may not go down as one of the greatest free-kick takers in history statistically, he has definitely been a scorer of some great free-kicks down the years.

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    The contest got out of hand early as the Bucks jumped out to a 37-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, with Antetokounmpo scoring 16 of his side's first 21 points.

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