Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Anthony Davis (35 points) and LeBron James (28 points) were simply too tough to stop on Friday, helping turn a 20-point deficit into a 10-point win. James added nine rebounds and eight assists, and Davis grabbed eight boards.
Ja Morant had 22 points and 10 assists for the Grizz, and center Jonas Valanciunas posted 22 points and eight rebounds.
Memphis scored the game’s first 11 points en route to a 22-2 edge with 6:18 remaining in the first quarter, but the Lakers stopped the bleeding and cut the advantage to 59-46 by halftime.
The third quarter was all Lakers, who outscored Memphis 41-23 and took an 87-82 lead into the final 12 minutes. James scored 13 third-quarter points, including the final seven punctuated by a stepback three-pointer right before time expired.
L.A. kept rolling from there, extending its lead to as many as 17 points before winning by 10.
The 21-6 Lakers won their seventh straight game, and Memphis dropped to 10-11.
Grizzlies PG Ja Morant: 22 points, 10 assists
Grizzlies C Jonas Valanciunas: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
Grizzlies SG Grayson Allen: 23 points
Lakers G/F LeBron James: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists
Lakers PF Anthony Davis: 35 points, 9 rebounds
Lakers F Kyle Kuzma: 20 points, 10 rebounds
Lakers’ 3rd Quarter Flips the Script
The Lakers played much better in the first half after finding themselves in a 22-2 hole, but they still trailed by 13 heading into halftime.
By the end of the third quarter, the Lakers left Memphis in their dust en route to cruising to victory in the fourth quarter.
It was the James and Davis show in the third, with the former finding the latter for an early transition bucket:
James then finished the quarter with a personal 7-0 run, beginning with this hoop despite the foul:
A 15-foot baseline jumper gave L.A. its first lead of the game, and then he capped the quarter with a three that gave the Lakers their first two-possession advantage:
However, the rest of the Lakers stepped up too and did the little things.
For example, as Bill Oram of The Athletic pointed out, Kyle Kuzma crashed the boards and turned an easy Grizzlies defensive rebound into an extra Laker possession after the ball bounced out-of-bounds off Memphis:
Down 68-61 at the time, the Lakers ultimately scored with that extra chance off a Davis dunk.
Otherwise, Marc Gasol hit a pair of three-pointers. Wesley Matthews drew a foul from behind the three-point line and hit all three free throws. Montrezl Harrell converted a three-point play, and Alex Caruso continued dished three assists as the Lakers outscored Memphis by 14 points in the third with him on the floor.
Overall, this game provided more evidence as to why the Lakers are still the most dangerous team in the league. They easily erased a 20-point deficit and somehow kept a double-digit distance for most of the final quarter anyway.
Strong Start But Rough 2nd Half for Memphis
The Lakers have been playing some shaky basketball of late, needing overtime in three straight games to beat a pair of losing teams in the 7-19 Detroit Pistons and 10-15 Oklahoma City Thunder (twice).
Memphis is a few cuts above those teams, heading into L.A. at 10-10 despite being shorthanded all year due to injuries and the league’s health and safety protocols.
On Friday, the Grizzlies showed what they’re capable of at their best, storming out to 11-0 and 22-2 leads on the road, with Dillon Brooks’ steal and layup helping extend the early rally:
Morant and Valanciunas also executed a fantastic sequence, with the point guard finishing off a great pass from the big man:
Valanciunas had 11 early points, and he was helped by Grayson Allen making a rare start:
The seven-footer kept it going in the second quarter:
And the Grizzlies’ franchise star did too, putting Memphis up 13 going into the half:
Unfortunately, Memphis largely went ice cold sans Morant in the third, with the point guard accounting for six points and three assists:
It also didn’t help that Memphis’ turnovers turned into 14 Laker points in the third quarter alone. Evan Barnes of the Commercial Appeal noted the team’s offensive struggles at one point:
Memphis’ inability to get to the free-throw line (Barnes noted the team was last in the NBA in this statistic entering Friday) also hurt. The Lakers took 33 free throws (making 25 shots), while Memphis only had 19 attempts (15 makes).
In the end, the Grizzlies’ put up a valiant effort, but it wasn’t meant to be as the defending world champions were too strong while Memphis simply didn’t perform well enough offensively down the stretch.