Lakers crush Grizzlies in first quarter, hold on to win Game 3

Lakers take a big 2-1 series lead against the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

LOS ANGELES — Maybe the young cub shouldn’t have poked the bear.

The Lakers got off to one of the more incredible starts in any game this season. The final score was more respectable, 111-101. I’ll talk about that later.

LeBron James said he wasn’t there for the BS. Before the game, LeBron himself went to Brooks and had a conversation.

It’s not often LeBron James has a conversation with a fellow NBA player and doesn’t cover his mouth (which he is known for throughout his career). Then from there, LeBron immediately made his presence felt by getting involved in the first Laker 8 points (6 points and an assist to Austin Reaves).

The Grizzlies didn’t respond very well. A lot of quick shots and careless turnovers by Memphis as the Crypto Dot Com Arena crowd got louder and louder. Possibly buoyed by the hometown fans, the Lakers got off to an 18-4 start.

And really, it got worse and worse for the Grizzlies in the first and it continued to get better for the Lakers. Rui Hachimura and Anthony Davis both scored in four straight possessions and the Lakers ended the quarter with a humongous 35-9 lead.

Rui would make a three-pointer to start the second quarter to boost the lead to 38-9.

Memphis did try their best to battle back. They ended the first half with a 13-1 run to cut the deficit to 53-37.

And then 17 seconds into the second half, Dillon Brooks, who had been a non-factor throughout the game, did this:

A tap on the lower region got Brooks ejected. I guess that’s what he meant by poking the bear.

Anyway, the Lakers kept it going. We even saw this amazing dunk from 418-year-old LeBron James:

How does he continue to do this?

The third quarter ended with a 20-point lead by the Lakers.

At this point, it seemed like the Lakers were just waiting for time to run out. Well, the previously hurt Ja Morant (who was a game-time decision) decided to do the running. He would score 22 straight points for Memphis towards the end as his three cut the deficit to a frightening 106-96 tally. Later, Desmond Bane ends Ja’s streak with a three of his own to snip the lead to single digits. But D’Angelo Russell stopped the run with a midrange J with a minute left. Morant’s three right after that didn’t go in and that was pretty much game. A cramped Morant stayed at the Grizzlies’ end of the court after his last dunk. You have to give him props that, even if hurt, he tried to bring Memphis back all by himself even if it seemed absurd.

That’s what the Lakers will take note of. The Lakers were up by 29 points early. And Memphis didn’t break, especially at the end of the game. Every game is different but the Grizz will certainly use that as momentum going into Game 4 on Monday.

But if you want to talk dominance, look no further than the first 12 minutes of the game. The Lakers were flying on both ends of the court. LeBron James set the tone while Anthony Davis imposed his will inside. Rui Hachimura continued his productive play. D’Angelo Russell still didn’t shoot well but his playmaking was still a key to their huge run.

In the Grizzlies’ point of view, other than Ja Morant’s scoring explosion, they’re going to throw away this game. They acted like a young and inexperienced team, especially in that first quarter. This isn’t exactly the core’s first playoff run. And the good news for them? Whether it’s by two points or 45 (or in Game 3’s case, 10 points), it’s still one loss.

Anthony Davis was a monster, going for 31 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. LeBron James ended the night with 25 points, 9 boards, and 5 assists. Rui Hachimura came off the bench to score 16.

Ja Morant was ridiculous with 45 points, 9 rebounds, and 13 assists. He’ll be something to watch in Game 4. Desmond Bane scored 18 points. Jaren Jackson, Jr. was the only other player in double figs with 13 points. If you’re wondering about Dillon Brooks’ shooting, it’s 3 for 13 and he ended with 7 points.

Lakers will have all the confidence in the world going into Game 4. But Memphis will certainly be encouraged by Monday after Ja’s huge fourth quarter. It’s certainly going to be quite the clash back in Los Angeles as the stakes get higher.