Heading into their Friday night game, the Los Angeles Lakers had lost three of their previous four games, and their sole win came against a rebuilding Houston Rockets squad. Despite that, they pulled off an impressive comeback, earning a 122-121 victory over the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies, who had won 11 games in a row before that.
LeBron James had a relatively quiet game (for his standards), as did Ja Morant. However, that was the Lakers’ plan. Memphis most second-chance points by a team in the last 25 years, but James said that it was a result of LA’s plan to key in on Morant (and Steven Adams’ insane strength).
“You spend a lot of time keying in on Ja Morant… send 2 guys at him,” James said after the game via @funakistats on Twitter. “Then you got the strongest guy in the NBA in Steven Adams under there battling vs guards. You’re gonna lose that battle 100/100 times”
Stevens pulled in 17 rebounds and Brandon Clarke snatched 10 of his own off the bench, including eight and five offensive boards, respectively. Their efforts helped Memphis tally 39 second-chance points.
As for Morant, the Lakers did a pretty good job of shutting him down. Or at least as well as a team can hope to do. Morant ended the night with 22 points, three rebounds, and eight assists. However, he shot just 9-of-29 from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point range.
Meanwhile, James didn’t have a very efficient game, either. He put up 23 points, nine boards, six assists, two steals, and two blocks, but shot just 8-of-21 from the floor and 1-of-5 from behind the three-point line.
LeBron James Sounds Off on Altercation
While the Lakers’ late-game heroics provided more than enough dramatics for the night, there had already been plenty by halftime. Dillon Brooks, Morant, and Adams got into it with sports personality Shannon Sharpe, as the TV host made a comment about not being able to guard James.
After the game, James showed love to Sharpe, saying that the two are good friends. He noted that he’ll always have his back, seemingly picking a side in the debacle.
“I ride with Shannon 365 days — 366 on a leap year — 24/7. So that’s my guy,” James said in his post-game press conference. “I always got his back. And he’s got mine. He can talk with the best of them, for sure.”
Brian Windhorst Sounds Off on Lakers Season
Despite their thrilling win over the Grizzlies, this season has obviously not gone to plan for the Lakers. And now, ownership and the front office aren’t keen on making any crazy moves. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, that might be the right move, as the Lakers are too inconsistent.
“This is what happens to bad teams. You are five games below, six games below, whatever they are under .500, because you can’t handle your business at the end of games,” Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast. “Because Russ runs into traffic, and this is why LeBron is screaming about the calls…When you’re screaming about the officiating, it’s because you need everything…I don’t blame Rob Pelinka…I don’t blame Jeanie Buss either, if they’re not trying to cut into the future to try and get this team into the play-in tournament.”