The Los Angeles Lakers began 2022 by winning four straight games, putting up their strongest run of the season. However, the Memphis Grizzlies will test the durability of their streak on Sunday when the teams face off for the final clash of the season series.
Memphis leads 2-1 after dealing L.A. with two tough defeats in December. In the most recent one, Ja Morant almost single-handedly snatched the win away from the Lakers’ hands. The former No. 2 overall pick came up big in crunch time of the 104-99 victory on Dec. 29, ending the night with 41 points and 10 rebounds.
That game also marks the last time the Purple and Gold lost, adding an extra storyline to the already important matchup against the Grizzlies.
“I think it’s big in the sense that we want to continue to play good basketball,” LeBron James said when asked if this game means extra.
“That is a team that’s playing great basketball and they’re above us in the standings and I feel like we had one that slipped away last time in Memphis. But we want to continue just to play good basketball and we have the opportunity to do that on Sunday against a very good team.”
The Lakers would make a statement by beating the Grizzlies, currently one of the hottest teams in the NBA with a fifth-best 27-14 record. Memphis has won eight straight games, triumphing over the Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets along the way.
One team will see its winning streak come to an end on Sunday. Finding a way to stop Morant
will be key if the Lakers want their run to continue, as the guard averages 40.5 points when facing L.A. this season — the most against any opponent.
James: Having players back healthy provided Lakers with ‘stability’
As the Lakers battled a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in addition to other injuries, James kept reiterating L.A.’s potential couldn’t be evaluated until the team was healthy again.
Now that most of the players have been back on the court, the 37-year-old All-Star said the Purple and Gold have the “stability” they needed to start winning games again.
“I think it’s just giving us some stability,” James said. “When you know guys are in the lineups, you know the rotations are gonna be crisp, everybody kind of knows when they’re going in, when they’re getting subbed out, you know who’s on the floor and how you’re playing with that particular group.
“So like I said whenever that was, because of COVID at the time hampering our lineups and hampering our players at the time, it was just hard to get that chemistry and that camaraderie on the floor. But as we continue to get guys back from injury and from protocols, we continue to work our habits and play some good ball.”
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