The Los Angeles Lakers were defeated 104-99 by the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, losing their sixth game in a row and blowing another double-digit lead.
For the majority of the game, Los Angeles held the upper hand. The Grizzlies struggled to make a 3-pointer in the first half, finishing with a paltry 14 percent 3-point shooting.
However, the same problems plagued the Lakers once again. Despite leading by 14 points at halftime, the Lakers turned over 18 times and gave up 13 offensive rebounds to Memphis in the second half.
It would have been possible for the Lakers to tie the game in the final seconds, but no shot was taken, so James threw it away. The Lakers scored only 16 points in the final 12 minutes.
Understandable if the Lakers' legs were dead, but that's still yet another missed opportunity in a season full of them.
— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) December 30, 2021
Lakers’ guard frustration after the loss
As Los Angeles’ losses pile up and their performance falls well below expectations, Malik Monk acknowledged some frustration with the team after the game.
“Coming out in the third quarter, it got away from us right there in that little stretch,” Monk said after the loss.
“Sh-t is super frustrating, man. We’ve been doing this all year, and we know what it takes. That’s why it’s so frustrating for us. But yeah, man, we just got to be locked in as a whole together, and I think we’ll be alright.”
Despite 36 games into the season, Monk said that the team is still figuring itself out. In terms of what the Lakers can do to improve their situation, particularly their turnover concerns, Monk says the team just needs to trust one another.
“Like I said, just being together and trusting the other guy and not trying to do everything by yourself,” Monk added. “I don’t like saying this sh-t, but we’re still a new team. Still figuring each other out. But yeah, we got to trust the next guy.”
Monk’s future with the Lakers
Monk had previously missed five games due to health and safety protocols, but he has scored 20 points, 25 points, and 15 points in his three games since returning.
During the game with the Grizzlies, the 23-year-old guard continues to put more effort than he is compensated for. He scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. With a plus-12 rating, he also contributed three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
When the offense needed buckets, Monk was the only Laker who could reliably assist James. His aspirations were to become a reliable player like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.
“I try to take that role every (game), it don’t matter if I’m playing a lot or not, I try to take that role and everything that comes with it. I want to be that guy. I’ve been coming into games thinking that and playing like that, too.”
The Lakers have benefited greatly from Monk’s ability to score the ball and create offense throughout the course of this season. Monk deserved to stay in the starting lineup after his second straight strong performance.
Ja Morant said that the win was even better knowing that he “got to send those people wearing purple and yellow home sad.”
“Go back to L.A.”
— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) December 30, 2021