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Elliott: Anthony Davis remains productive, and accountable, to give Lakers a boost

Thunder guard Luguentz Dort, left, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis reach for a rebound in front of forward Chet Holmgren. ((Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press))© (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Always happy to share the credit in good times, Anthony Davis insisted on keeping the blame to himself when the Lakers lost at Utah on Saturday.

Everyone but him did their part to step up in the absence of LeBron James, he said that night, putting the Lakers in an even tougher position than they were already facing as they battled to crack the top 10 in the West and at least get in position for a play-in berth. “We got to make a push,” he said, pointing out that their performance over the next few games at home would be crucial in determining the direction of their season.

Davis didn’t have to accept the burden after that loss. He’s having a terrific season at both ends of the floor and has consistently been the Lakers’ most effective player, steady while they sorted through lineup changes and constant injuries and endured crises of confidence and lapses on defense.

“He wants to be there for us in the most competitive way and just pull us on his back and carry us a lot. And when he’s feeling like he’s not doing that, he’s really hard on himself,” coach Darvin Ham said. “But that’s why he is who he is, though.”

Davis’ willingness to take responsibility for that defeat was admirable. So was his response Monday against Oklahoma City in the first of six straight games for the Lakers at Arena (including one as the “road” team against the Clippers).

Davis scored a game-high 27 points, grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and added five assists and a block to emphatically launch that push the Lakers urgently need. Their 112-105 victory over the Thunder was in some ways a template for what they’ll have to do going forward: playing with a starting lineup of Taurean Prince, James, Davis, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell, they had four starters in double figures, shot 52.4% from the floor, and turned a six-point deficit early in the third quarter into an eight-point lead by the end of the period.