Well, they came through in the clutch!
Let’s cut to the play of the game:
As the NBA Twitter account showed, Dennis Schröder came through with quite the defensive play and gave the Lakers the lead. He completed the three-point play. The Grizzlies had one last chance to either send the game to overtime or win. Ja Morant missed but Brandon Clarke got fouled on the rebound by Wenyen Gabriel. However, Clarke missed the second (and game-tying) free throw and the Lakers finally won a close game.
It was a strange game. Memphis seemed to dominate and it felt a little weird when the Lakers were up because it just didn’t feel or look like they were winning. The Grizzlies dominated overall rebounding (63-47), particularly on the offensive end (24-10). Memphis was better in the paint (64-44). And of course, the Grizz killed on second chance points (39-22).
But Memphis didn’t shoot well (.422). The Lakers were bricking all game (.409) but they played the foul game nearly perfectly in the last minute. And it was Memphis that was missing shots late.
After Tyus Jones made both free throws to make the score, 118-113, LeBron James tipped in a missed Russell Westbrook lay-up to cut the deficit to three. Ja Morant (who didn’t have much of an impact as he usually does) missed a floater, Westbrook was able to pick up the loose ball off the missed LeBron three. That cut the deficit to one.
Tyus Jones was fouled once again but he made both foul shots with 17.8 seconds left. It was 120-117, Memphis. Lakers opted to go for the two instead of the three. Schröder was fouled and he made both foul shots. And that led to the play that you saw at the beginning of this column.
Memphis was ready to put it away at the end of the third quarter; they led, 88-75. But they kept up with the Grizz and got timely threes from Westbrook, Troy Brown, and Kendrick Nunn. Just a huge win for the Lakers to stay in the Western Conference race.
Lakers were led by Russell Westbrook, who had a season-high 29 points. LeBron looked fatigued a lot of the game but he still ended with 23-9-6. Dennis Schröder didn’t shoot particularly well but he got to the line and finished with 19 points. And you know what he did at the end of the game.
Ja Morant had 22 points and 8 assists but shot 9 for 29. Tyus Jones scored 20 off the bench, as did Brandon Clarke (along with 10 boards) but I’m sure Clarke wished he would’ve scored 21. If that were the case, I’d be writing this column 30 minutes later than intended. Steven Adams had 16 points and 17 rebounds.
This win made the home stand more respectable at 2-3. The Lakers are still 13th at 21-25 but they’re still only two games behind the 6th-seeded Clippers (24-24). Lakers will be back on the road against the Blazers on Sunday.
What a wild game/league this is. And dare I say, it’s still wilder than whatever courtside shenanigans were going on at halftime (with some former football player and I guess, Usher?). At this point, the situation’s out of control.