Heading into their road trip the general consensus was the Los Angeles Lakers were more likely to defeat the San Antonio Spurs than Memphis Grizzlies. That being said, L.A. had proven to be effective on the second night of a back-to-back, sitting at 4-1 in such games before Saturday.
After a disappointing loss to the Spurs in which they squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Lakers blew out the Grizzlies to earn a split on their road trip. The matchup with Memphis presented contrasting styles as they play at the slowest pace in the league.
The Lakers had some turnover issues in the first quarter but otherwise got off to a strong start as the Grizzlies struggled to connect from the field and fell into a double-digit deficit. Los Angles dominated the rebounding battle in the first half, 36-11.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton pointed to that as one of the important factors in facing the Grizzlies on the road, Spectrum SportsNet
“We talked about that. They’re a big, physical team. Part of our challenge is, were we mentally ready to engage that? Rebounding is normally a big key as far as if you’re mentally ready to take on the type of game this was going to be. I think that definitely was a key for us.”
Walton went on to deem the Lakers’ win one of their best this season and that it was a game they would’ve lost earlier this season:
“This is up there. We always talk about just getting better. This is a game we wouldn’t have won earlier in the year. Back-to-back, road game against a good team. We came out and pretty much put our stamp on the game early and kept it. That’s not easy to do against a team like that. Now, they missed a lot of shots; they had some good looks early that they just didn’t knock down. But this is a very good, solid win for us.”
The Lakers made 16 3-pointers compared to just six for the Grizzlies and out-rebounded them 69-43 (19 to 9 on offensive glass). Memphis did manage to limit fastbreak points, which the Lakers only had 15 of.
Having previously mentioned he evaluates the Lakers in 10-game increments, the team is now 5-1 in the latest stretch after starting the season 4-6 and going 7-3 over the next 10.