The Memphis Grizzlies showed NBA fans that they are a force to be reckoned with this season by defeating the struggling Los Angeles Lakers 104-99 at FedExForum for their third straight win. Losing the lead during the final minutes of the game was another dramatic ending for the Lakers.
As Memphis advanced to 22-14, Ja Morant led the way with a season-high 41 points and a career-high six three-pointers. Now 2-1 in the regular-season series, the Grizzlies have won the past two meetings against the Lakers.
On the other hand, Los Angeles is down to 17-29 after losing its sixth game in a row. LeBron James topped the team with 37 points and tied a career-high with eight three-pointers.
Both teams will play each other again next month in their final match of the year.
Ja Morant shines once again
Memphis struggled on offense for most of the game, but they kept it close anyway. In the first half, the Grizzlies made only two of 14 shots beyond the arc but hit 12-of-13 free throws to get within six at halftime.
For Memphis, Ja Morant led the way with 16 points in the first 24 minutes. Morant powered his way back from a 14-point deficit after the break to spearhead a furious comeback.
The second half of the game was when Morant scored 25 of his 41 points. His three career 40-point games make him the first Grizzlies player to accomplish that feat. Los Angeles lost 26-16 to Memphis in the fourth quarter, with Morant leading the way.
In the NBA, Morant has proven himself to be one of the brightest young stars. This could propel the Grizzlies to a top-three Western Conference seed this season.
LeBron James’ strong performance
Though the Lakers have had a difficult season, James clearly hasn’t lost a step and is playing some of his best basketball.
In the first half, the 19-year veteran scored 15 points, including 11 on 4-of-4 shooting. James led Los Angeles to a 13-point lead at one point, which Memphis cut to six heading into the break.
The first half saw James make three of his four three-point attempts and later become more confident after coming out of the locker room. During the rest of the game, he made five more three-pointers, tying his career-high.
James had at least 30 points and 50 percent shooting from the field for the sixth consecutive game.
In contrast, the rest of the Lakers had a difficult time getting going. Los Angeles’ only other players to score in double figures were Russell Westbrook with 16 points and Malik Monk with 15 points.
Anthony Davis has already missed five games after suffering a sprained MCL against Minnesota and will need more time to recover. A knee injury will prevent Kendrick Nunn from returning until January, Wayne Ellington remains questionable, and four others, Rajon Rondo, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, and Austin Reeves, have been placed on the league’s health and safety protocol.
On the other hand, as a result of left ankle sprains, Sam Merrill and Ziaire Williams are out for the Grizzlies, along with Santi Aldama, who will miss his third game in a row due to a calf injury. John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, and Jarrett Culvert are the four Memphis players that are part of the league’s health and safety protocols.
Also adds that LeBron has “big time” confidence in Malik Monk.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) December 29, 2021