March 25, 2018, 12:22 am
The Lakers overcame a poor start to outlast the tanking Grizzlies 100-93.
Memphis lost their previous game by a franchise record 61-points, perhaps motivating them to come out with a strong effort on Saturday. Los Angeles fell behind early by as much as 17 points at 27-10, before waking up and battling back to top a short-handed Memphis team. The Lakers appeared tired early on, missing easy shots at the rim, appearing discombobulated on both ends of the court and demonstrating poor body language while falling behind early. The Lakers only dressed nine players but really had eight players in their rotation, a recurrent theme, perhaps excusing their poor performances and lackadaisical play. But they persevered, overcoming their injuries and slow start to pull away in the fourth quarter for a much-needed victory.
Kyle Kuzma was the first Laker to pick up his energy level, helping the Lakers finish the first quarter on a run to end the first quarter down only 11 and 28-17 — remarkably, that was an accomplishment. He finished the first period with seven points, two rebounds, one assist and some much-needed energy.
Los Angeles allowed Memphis to score 16-of-18 points to start the game and 34 first half points in the paint, contributing to a 57-52 Grizzly lead at the half. Memphis shot 12-of-21 in the first quarter and 23-of-40 (57.5 percent) for the entire first half. The Lakers seemed to regain some of their composure at the half, coming out with a renewed focus, in particular on the defensive end.
Travis Wear provided the Lakers a crucial boost in the first half, scoring 11 of the Lakers total 17 bench points for the game during the second quarter and helping to energize a team that looked lethargic early on. He finished the game with a game-high plus-14 rating, earning the contract for the rest of the season that was recently awarded to him.
The Lakers held the Grizzlies to 5-of-19 shooting from the field in the third quarter; including 1-of-9 from 3-point range and only two points in the paint. The trend continued into the fourth quarter where Memphis only shot 7-of-25 from the field and only mustered 10 points in the paint. Los Angeles held Memphis to only 41 second-half points after a poor defensive effort in the first half, helping them overcome their poor start to earn the win.
Kuzma was the Lakers’ best player on the night with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and a plus-7 rating on 9-of-21 shooting from the field, 4-of-10 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the line. Kuzma scored seven consecutive points in the fourth quarter as part of an 11-2 run to take the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
Julius Randle continued his strong play with 20 points, 11 rebounds and one assist on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. However, he was locked in a tight battle with Memphis power forward JaMychal Green, who contributed 17 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks on his own accord. To his credit, Green earned a plus-9 rating before fouling out, causing Randle to accrue five personal fouls, three turnovers and a minus-8 rating for the game.
After struggling badly in his last outing, Lonzo Ball bounced-back to the tune of 12 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, one steal and a plus-1 rating. He improved his shooting from the field with 5-of-13 from the floor but only converted 1-of-6 from the charity stripe and 1-of-4 from the free throw line. His performance was just enough to buttress the Lakers over a poor Memphis team, but they will need more against a better opponent to secure a win. Regardless, it was a step in the right direction and a good confidence builder for the young guard.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continued his string of good games with 18 points, five rebounds, one steal and a plus-7 rating on 5-of-12 shooting from the field, 4-of-9 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the line.
Brook Lopez struggled with an extremely difficult matchup against Marc Gasol, ending the game with only eight points, five rebounds, one steal, one block and a plus-2 rating on 2-of-8 from the field and 3-of-6 from the line.
Memphis was led by Andrew Harrison who tallied 20 points, four rebounds, nine assists and one steal on 7-of-15 shooting. Early on he was able to attack the paint at will, but the Lakers did a better job forcing him to settle for outside shots as the game went on — he shot only 1-of-5 from 3-point range and earned a minus-8 rating for the game.
The Lakers were able to corral Marc Gasol, holding him to 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals on 6-of-16 shooting for the game.
The Lakers were able to snap a four-game losing streak as well as a four-game road losing streak with this victory. In a bit of symmetry, this was the fourth consecutive defeat for the Grizzlies.
Key Stats and Observations
-The Lakers allowed 34 points in the paint in the first half but held the Grizzlies to a total of 12 points in the half in the second half.
-The two teams came into the game as two of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league; the disparity between the teams from long-distance was the difference in the game. The Lakers converted 13-of-38 from 3-point range (34.2 percent) vs. 5-of-29 (17.2 percent) for Memphis.
-Both teams shot extremely poorly from the field with the Lakers making only 35-of-86 (40.7 percent) and the Grizzlies knocking down 35-of-84 (41.7 percent).
-The Lakers’ bench was extremely short-handed due to injury, fielding only Tyler Ennis, Wear and Ivica Zubac. Although that unit was only able to produce 17 points, they accumulated a plus-26 rating compared to a Grizzlies’ bench that mustered only 18 points and a combined minus-32 rating.
The Lakers finish their four-game road-trip against the Pistons on Monday.
Detroit is sitting in the ninth spot of the Eastern Conference but is facing an almost insurmountable 5.5 game deficit in the standings.
They are led by Andre Drummond, who is having a career-year with 14.8 points, 15.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. He is coming off a huge 15-point, 20-rebound, four-assist, four-steal and four-block performance in a win against the Suns on Saturday.
Los Angeles hopes to get back starting small forward Brandon Ingram, who participated in shootaround before Saturday’s game. He is recovering from a hip/groin injury suffered March 1 in a win against the Miami Heat.