The Los Angeles Lakers came into Sunday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies winners of four straight, looking to carry that momentum over against a legit contender in the Western Conference.
Unfortunately though, the Lakers put up a lackluster performance and were blown out at home, 127-119, with the score only looking as close at it did because of a big run in garbage time.
LeBron James was active around the rim to begin the game, scoring on layups and pulling down boards, but it Jaren Jackson Jr. was able to give the Grizzlies the early advantage. James was able to convert on an acrobatic and-one, but Ja Morant matched him with an incredibly block on Avery Bradley after the latter came up with a steal on the former.
James was able to get his outside jumper going early, and Malik Monk’s first 3-pointer of the night knotted the score at 17-17. Talen Horton-Tucker was in rhythm scoring the basketball in his first stint off the bench with eight quick points, but the Lakers and Grizzlies would go into the second tied 27-27.
Desmond Bane seemed to have said something to James so the latter immediately went right at the guard, drawing a foul and driving by him for an easy score. However, Memphis was able to generate open looks from beyond the arc, and Los Angeles saw themselves trailing by six.
Outside of an improbable banked three from James, the Laker offense stalled in the second quarter as no one else was able to get a jumper to go down while the Grizzlies methodically moved the basketball to go up 54-44. James did his best to carry the offensive load for Los Angeles, but with Memphis playing well on both ends they would go into the half down 65-52.
It was a rough start for the Lakers coming out of the locker room as the offense still could not buy a bucket, while the Grizzlies capped off their run with a Morant alley-oop. James’ frustrations on the court were obvious, but despite his efforts, Los Angeles continued to fall further behind.
The Laker defense had zero answers for a Grizzlies team that got nearly any look they wanted, compounding their issues further. With nothing going right on either end, L.A. went into the fourth trailing 107-83.
Dwight Howard provided some energy with his activity in the paint, but Memphis found little resistance scoring at the rim. Facing such a large deficit, the Lakers eventually emptied their bench to finish out a disappointing performance.
Wayne Ellington and Austin Reaves did their best to bring the Lakers back in garbage time with a 21-0 run, but it ultimately still wasn’t enough.
James did not have much help on the night as he had another impressive game with 35 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Horton-Tucker was the only other player on the team to get into double figures before garbage time though.
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