Not for the first time this season, the Los Angeles Lakers went through a whirlwind of emotions in the 127-119 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
L.A. entered the fourth quarter facing a 24-point deficit after a poor shooting performance from everyone besides LeBron James. While James shot 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field in the first three quarters, his teammates went 18-for-57 (31.6%) combined.
But then, a five-man lineup of Austin Reaves, Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore, Trevor Ariza, and DeAndre Jordan brought the game back within eight points with a 21-0 run. The late push forced the Grizzlies to send their starters back to action with 1:16 left on the clock.
The Lakers eventually failed to complete their comeback — even though they believed they had a chance to upset Memphis.
“Yeah definitely,” Ellington said. “I don’t know if they called a timeout, or we called a timeout, but we were in the huddle and coach was drawing up a play and I looked at the guys.
“There’s a minute and some change, a minute and 20 something left in the game and we were down eight points. I’ve seen crazier stuff happen. We had a chance.”
In the last moments of the game, head coach Frank Vogel left the same unit on the floor that fired the Lakers back into the game. Ellington ended the night with 16 points, shooting 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
The frantic fourth quarter showed the importance of roster depth — and displayed the mindset of the Lakers’ role players, who stay in shape even if they find themselves out of the rotation during the season.
“Stay ready. I’ve said that back in August when I signed,” Ellington said, asked about his mindset having featured in just two of L.A.’s last seven games.
“We have a deep roster. We have a deep team. We have a lot of guys and there’s going to be times where guys aren’t playing, there’s going to be times where guys are playing. The key to it is being able to sacrifice, stay ready, stay professional, and when Coach calls your number, be ready to get in there and do what you do. I’ve been getting stronger, working on my game, and staying ready.”
Ellington reveals James compared 2021-22 Lakers to last year’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ellington has revealed James compared the 2021-22 Lakers to reigning NFL champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the season.
James used the analogy to ask his teammates for patience, explaining they might wait before L.A. will figure things out and play up to its potential — just as the Buccaneers did in Tom Brady’s first season in Tampa Bay.
“It’s funny, you know, talking to Bron earlier after free agency. We were in Vegas for a little team bonding,” Ellington said. “He kept comparing the team to Tampa Bay [Buccaneers]. Tom Brady’s first year and they won the Super Bowl and they started out 7-5 and everybody was like, ‘Oh no.’ They hit their stride at the right time, ended up winning the whole thing.
“So that’s one of the things I always reach back to when you see how our season has been going so far. Remaining positive, remaining professional. Understanding that this thing can turn in the right direction for us.”
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