After two disappointing showings to start the 2021-22 season, the Los Angeles Lakers finally get in the win column after beating the Memphis Grizzlies in a thrilling 121-118 contest.
Carmelo Anthony was the star of the night as he led the Lakers in scoring with 28 points, though Anthony Davis dominated the game like he normally does on both ends. Davis finished the night with 22 points and rebounds, but also added four blocks and his all-world rim protection as he was a menace in the paint whenever the Grizzlies tried to challenge him.
It was an extremely entertaining and competitive finish, particularly in the final minutes when Memphis looked like they were going to steal the game after Ja Morant was granted a questionable shooting foul from beyond the arc. Morant wound up missing the third free throw attempt, which sealed the game and allowed the Lakers to finally celebrate a win.
When discussing the night, Davis admitted that he and the team felt good about finally getting a victory and acknowledged that it could be a building block for them as they head out on their first road trip of the season.
“We don’t really look too much into preseason, but we kind of got that monkey off our backs with a win,” Davis said. “We’re going into a road trip where we feel like we can get both of these wins too. Kind of start going from there. Let this win be a momentum booster for us. These next 10 games, take it 10 games at a time. Try to have a winning record after 10 games. That could be a momentum booster where we could keep going and let this guy [Carmelo Anthony] keep shooting threes.”
This was the first game the Lakers have played this season that came down to the final minute, and the Lakers had to execute late on both ends of the floor to come out on top. Davis discussed what he liked about how the Lakers closed out the win.
“I think we did a good job. Defensively, we did a good job towards the end with our coverages. Down the stretch, made our free throws and executed on the offensive end. So I think our execution down the stretch late in the game was pretty good. There’s some things we can still get better at, but for our first time handling that as a new team, we executed pretty well.”
Even though the Lakers allowed the Grizzlies to score 118 points, there were a handful of encouraging defensive possessions that should ease the minds of the coaching staff and the fans. When head coach Frank Vogel opted to go smaller with Davis at center, Los Angeles was able to scramble defensively and contest shots which in turn allowed them to get out in semi-transition and score more easily.
As far as free-throw shooting goes, the Lakers were solid as Malik Monk and Davis buried four crucial attempts to help keep them ahead. All in all, it was an excellent performance from the Purple and Gold and could signal them finally turning the corner.
Davis compared late-game defense to Packers star Jaire Alexander
Davis is known to be a big Green Bay Packers fan and was even sporting a jersey during his postgame press conference on Sunday.
When discussing some of his late-game defensive plays such as the blocks and a steal, he jokingly compared it to Packers star cornerback Jaire Alexander.
“Earlier today I was just watching the [Green Bay] Packers and watching the defensive schemes that Jaire Alexander does and trying to mimic that. I was able to get the deflection. Then the pick, I got two feet in, but the referee said I fumbled the ball and went out of bounds so, yeah that’s how I’m doing it.”
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