Teams historically have had sloppy showings in the first game back after the NBA All-Star break and that was the case for the Los Angeles Lakers as they endured some rough stretches to earn a win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis once again led the Lakers as the All-Star duo combined for 60 of the team’s 117 points and imposing their will on the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter. Memphis had no answers for the team’s one-two punch as they took turns attacking and scoring the basketball.
Despite several lapses in the second half that allowed the Grizzlies to come back, the Lakers still showed flashes of their defensive brilliance and after the game, James talked about their ceiling on that end of the floor.
“We’ve been close to it. We’ve had great stretches. More great than not, but we’re getting back to it. We understand that every team that we play gon’ play great basketball versus us. They look forward to that match up and it’s up to use to try take teams out of what they do well,” James said.
“So to have Avery, and JaVale and AD and the rest of us just doing our job defensively being sound, being in turn with the game plan is really good for us.”
After starting the 2019-20 NBA season effectively on the defensive end, Los Angeles saw some slippage prior to the break that raised some concerns, but they tapped into their potential against Memphis. There was a particular stretch during the second quarter that had fans at Staples Center on their feet as they quickly rotated and closed out on the Grizzlies shooters and packed the paint to prevent any easy buckets.
The team’s defense also ignited several fastbreak opportunities that allowed them to build their lead up, an encouraging sign for a team that can sometimes struggle to score in the halfcourt. While Memphis did manage to battle back and make it an interesting game, Los Angeles ultimately proved to be too much and reminded everyone how dangerous they can be when they are locked in.
The win is a solid way to kick off the remainder of the season, but there are still questions regarding the roster as the purple and gold have been linked to several players who can potentially help during their 2020 NBA playoff run. It will be interesting to see what changes — if any — are made between now and the end of the season.