The Los Angeles Lakers had no issues putting away the Memphis Grizzlies in the second game of In-Season Tournament group play on Tuesday night. The 134-107 blowout win was punctuated by a dominant defensive performance from Anthony Davis, who compiled six blocks and all but silenced Grizzlies star Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jackson finished with eight points on 3-for-16 from the field. He had only two rebounds compared to Davis’ 11 and was a non-factor as the Grizzlies moved to 0-3 in Group A play and 2-9 on the season. Jackson, somewhat controversially, was named last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, an award many within the Lakers felt should have been given to Davis.
It’s possible that last year’s award snub played a role in Davis’ domination on Tuesday night. However, the Lakers star would never admit to that, saying that it wasn’t a factor in the way that he played.
“I’m playing the same way. It wasn’t a thing of, ‘Oh, he got it last year, let me try to,’ you know, show him up or anything like that. I just go and compete. Protect the rim,” Davis said. “Tell my guys to compete on the ball, and funnel all the guys towards me. And I’ll take care of rest. So I just go out there and just play as hard as I can on both ends of the floor. But especially on the defensive end, and knowing that I’m an anchor and got to protect all the guys.”
Davis was not the only one who competed on both ends in a complete team effort. The Lakers were phenomenal in all phases, including a red-hot outing from beyond the arc. L.A. shot 22-of-35 from three, their best performance of the season from range.
“I think we just played with a sense of urgency tonight. You know, guys played with a lot of confidence, played a lot in rhythm,” Davis said. “Our passes on target tonight, making the right reads. Passes wasn’t late. You know, and I think that’s probably the first game where you can see we kind of just having fun. Getting back to Laker basketball.
“We’re having fun and the next guy trusts you to turn a good play into to a great play, or a good shot to a great shot. That just shows that player, your teammate has confidence, and you’re able to line them up and knock them down. So I think that was just the biggest difference. Guys are playing for each other on both ends of the floor. Talking, communicating it that kind of just led to guys knocking down shots.”
The Lakers appear to have turned things around with three straight wins, and whether or not Davis needed extra motivation for his performance is irrelevant. He showed on Tuesday that his defense can be the catalyst for big wins when needed.
Lakers tie franchise record
The 22 3-pointers made by the Lakers in the 27-point win over the Grizzlies ties a franchise record, a stark change from the first 10 games of the season that saw L.A. have the second-worst 3-point percentage in the NBA and saw them make history for 3-point futility.
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