The Los Angeles Lakers once again blew a double-digit lead as they dropped their sixth of the last seven games to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. The Lakers led by as many as 14 points in the second half and despite the best efforts of LeBron James, couldn’t hold on to that lead.
LeBron finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks on the night, but he also struggled to take care of the ball with five turnovers. The last of those came on the final possession with the Lakers trailing by three and a chance of tying the game.
James would throw the ball away as Memphis’ Tyus Jones would get the steal and the Grizzlies would ice the game with a pair of free throws, sending the Lakers to another loss. Afterward, LeBron described what happened on that last possession.
“Yeah, looked like Russ was gonna go back door at one point, then he backed back out, and I was already in the air,” LeBron said after the 104-99 loss in Memphis. “I had slipped before on my drive, which kind of threw my rhythm off.”
You can see exactly what LeBron is speaking about on the play as he did slip initially, and Westbrook did take a step towards the rim before backing away to the corner. James being in the air already limited his options which is why jumping to pass is always a dangerous option.
But LeBron also gave credit to the Grizzlies and Ja Morant, in particular, for turning things around in the fourth quarter. “I just thought that they made shots and we missed shots,” LeBron added. “They did a good job of attacking, Ja was spectacular obviously once again versus us. We just lost a game that we could’ve won obviously be we learn from our mistakes and get better the next game.”
Morant has now scored at least 40 points in both of his meetings with the Lakers and has improved his game greatly over the offseason, but overall this will go down as yet another game L.A. could have won but their own mistakes doomed them.
David Fizdale describes what he saw on Lakers final possession
That final possession for the Lakers is one that will get much of the attention as it ended in the last of 18 turnovers for the Lakers and five for James. Acting head coach David Fizdale described what he believes happened and what could have happened on that last play.
“Well that’s what I was saying. That was a play, I got blocked out,” Fizdale said after the game. “But I thought and the guys are telling me that maybe I’m wrong about it and maybe I was wrong, I just wasn’t sure what happened. But Malik got the throwback and I know he wanted to swing it to Russ, but I think Tyus [Jones] jumped into his passing lane to disrupt the rhythm of the pass and when Malik tried to put it down it got deflected and disrupted. So Russ was gonna be wide open there in the corner for an open three or an attack.”
But Fizdale believes that the last play isn’t the only reason the Lakers lost.
“But that wasn’t the only play, I mean goodness, we had our opportunities, we played a great first half with great ball movement, engaged defense, a defense that was really battling on the glass and we were making the extra pass and executing with precision and we just got away from that.”
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