Lakers win fifth straight game after defeating Grizzlies, 136-124

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
The Lakers have won five straight and are 2-0 on the current road trip after beating the Memphis Grizzlies, 136-124, on Wednesday.

MEMPHIS — The Lakers have won 5 in a row.

L.A. built a big lead and managed to stave off a Grizzlies rally in the second half. The final score was 136-124.

Jaxson Hayes provided a few dunks to get the Lakers off to a good start. The Grizzlies got a nice boost with the return of Brandon Clarke from an Achilles injury. Spencer Dinwiddie went on a nice personal run to score 8 points in the first but the Grizzlies countered with 6 in a row to end the first with a 37-36 Laker lead.

The Grizz led for a bit before Rui Hachimura caught fire. The Lakers turning it over a bit too often kept the Grizzlies in the game. Rui made another three and Austin Reaves closed the half with four straight points. The Lakers led, 69-61, at the half.

Coming out of the third, the Lakers made it rain. They went 8 for 9 from three in nearly 8 minutes as the lead swelled to 27 points. But we know how it is in the league; no lead is ever safe in the NBA. And you can argue that goes double for the Lakers. Either way, the Grizz themselves made a bunch of threes to end the third with a 21-4 run. Suddenly, it was only a 10-point lead for the Lakers (102-92) as they entered the fourth.

Jake LaRavia (not mentioned in the preview because he was so unheralded) started the fourth with another three to slice the deficit to 7 points. But the Lakers made some more threes (Rui Hachimura was just on fire). A Jaxson Hayes slam put the lead back to 16.

Well, you know what I’m going to talk about: focus. They didn’t look energized when head coach Darvin Ham took out Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and LeBron James all at the same time. That’s when the run started for the Grizzlies. But whoever’s on the court cannot let things go out of control. It was no coincidence that the Lakers were able to grow the lead back when those three came back onto the court.

Like I said, the Lakers seem to have a penchant on making the team’s opposing role players into superstars. In this case, it’s Jake LaRavia. LaRavia was the 19th pick overall in the 2022 Draft out of Wake Forest. He made a ton of threes that seemingly matched Hachimura shot by shot.

But the Lakers were just too talented up and down. The Grizzlies were no match. And the Lakers were their usual aggressive self going into the paint. They shot 35 foul shots compared to 17 by Memphis. And the Grizz did shoot a lot of threes (17/43, .395); the Lakers just had an amazing percentage (18/33, .545).

Turnovers were a problem for the Lakers (8 in the first half and 15 overall). But the Grizz equally were bad at that (14). And that’s how you can usually beat the Lakers (or any team, really).

No Anthony Davis for the Lakers but Rui Hachimura picked up the scoring production with 32 points. He also grabbed 10 boards. He went 7 for 8 from three. LeBron James caught a triple-double in the third quarter and ended with 23-14-12. D’Angelo Russell also had 23 points while Austin Reaves ended with 13 points and 11 dimes. As for Memphis, Desmond Bane scored 26 points while the aforementioned LaRavia put in 25.

But anyway, ugly or not, the Lakers have won 5 games in a row, which seems like the first time it’s happened in a century. And an excellent start to their road trip. The Lakers will get a day off before they hit what is presumed to be Caitlin Clark Country in a few weeks in Indiana. We expect that match-up on Sunday to be fast and furious. Maybe 400 points total or something.