In a wildly entertaining game that went down to the final minute, the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Memphis Grizzlies, 119-118, to earn their first win of the season.
The Grizzlies took command of the game early, scoring both at the rim and beyond the arc to open up a 10-4 advantage. Russell Westbrook was able to connect with DeAndre Jordan for several looks at the rim, but turnovers and missed jumpers prevented them from closing the gap.
Defensively, Los Angeles was able to finally settle in as they forced Memphis into a couple of turnovers and were more aggressive trying to score in the painted area. The Lakers really got going when they went smaller as Anthony Davis began to dominate both ends, while Carmelo Anthony’s mini scoring burst put them up 29-24 after one.
Los Angeles’ playmaking was on clear display to begin the second as Austin Reaves and Westbrook found open teammates that knocked down shots and extended their lead. However, the team held its collective breath as LeBron James stayed down after hurting his leg, but fortunately was able to bounce back up and remain in the game.
The Lakers started to slow down as they still struggled to hit from the outside, allowing the Grizzlies to pull within five. Westbrook then single-handedly carried the offensive burden, scoring nine quick points and L.A. went into the half leading 62-56. Westbrook had his best half as a Laker, recording nine points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
Head coach Frank Vogel went back to his two-big lineup to start the third and the Grizzlies were able to briefly retake the lead before a Davis three. The two teams then traded the lead as they hit difficult shots from outside.
Morant began to put on a show for the Staples Center crowd, converting on an array of shots at the basket including a nearly impossible up-and-under layup. Westbrook kept the Lakers afloat, but they wound up going into the final quarter down 90-87.
Anthony came out on fire shooting the basketball, nailing three consecutive jumpers to put L.A. up 100-94. The Laker 3-point shooting remained hot as James and Malik Monk followed up with one each to push the lead to nine.
It was a competitive close to the game as the Lakers and Grizzlies traded buckets, with L.A. holding a two-possession advantage. L.A. and Memphis went down to the wire, and although Morant had a chance to tie the game he missed his last free throw and the Purple and Gold escaped with their first win of the season.
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