The Los Angeles Lakers’ winning streak came to an end after an off-shooting night in the 127-119 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Even though LeBron James scored 32 points over the first three quarters, L.A. trailed Memphis 107-83 ahead of the final period. While James went 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field, his teammates shot 18-for-57 (31.6%) combined on the night.
A reserve Lakers unit then pulled off a 21-0 run in the final 12 minutes, bringing the game back within eight points and prompting the Grizzlies’ starters to return to the court. But L.A. didn’t have enough time to complete the comeback.
Memphis has now dealt the Lakers their last two losses — even though they missed two starters on Sunday in Steven Adams and Dillon Brooks. Head coach Frank Vogel said Adams’ absence made it difficult for the Purple and Gold to guard the smaller and faster Grizzlies team.
“Well, I want to credit Memphis first, they played great,” Vogel said. “They’ve been playing great. One of the hottest teams in the league. Not having [Steven] Adams out there, obviously, he’s a big part of what they do but they get a little faster and a little more spread out. A little more difficult to guard in some ways.
“We had trouble getting back from transition and I thought this was one of those games where we let a lot of misses of the basket affect our defensive focus. We weren’t scoring. We lost focus of what we were supposed to be doing on the defensive side. That can’t happen. Obviously, that was the big reason they built a big lead.”
The Grizzlies own the longest active winning streak in the Western Conference, remaining unbeaten in the last nine games. Vogel praised Memphis for its strong defense which, he says, successfully disrupted the Lakers on the offensive end.
“A lot of guys having a tough night all at once,” Vogel said.
“Credit Memphis’ defense. They’re a good defensive team. Forced a lot of turnovers and they break rhythm, so we were just a little out of sync, but like you said, a number of guys having tough nights all at the same time.”
Vogel calls Grizzlies’ Ja Morant ‘special player’
Ja Morant scored just 16 points against the Lakers on Sunday, a significant drop compared to his two 40-plus performances earlier in 2021-22. But the 22-year-old still made the headlines with his unbelievable two-handed block on Avery Bradley.
Vogel said the play showed how big of a talent the Grizzlies have in Morant.
“It was a special play from a special player,” the head coach said. “What else is there really to say? I think it was clean. I didn’t see any replays or anything. He’s a special player. That was a hell of a play.”
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