After another slow and sketchy start for the Lakers, they once again came roaring back on the heels of a stellar third quarter to pick up a 120-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Anthony Davis led the way with a historically dominant performance on both ends and carried the Laker offense for the majority of the night.
Now 3-1 heading into a road trip with stops in Dallas, San Antonio, and Chicago, the Lakers have a chance to build on what is already the best start to a Laker season since 2010-11.
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Grizzlies
Davis already had himself a 40 point, 20 rebound performance at the end of the third quarter and would go on to finish with an absurd stat line of 40 points and 20 rebounds. Davis proved to be a massive problem for the Grizzlies in the low post and was able to control the glass while getting himself to the free throw line an absurd 27 times.
On a night where the rest of the Lakers’ offense didn’t really come to play, the vintage Davis performance was exactly what the doctor ordered. Despite only shooting 7 of 17 from the field, Davis set a Lakers franchise record for made free throws (26) and was able to single-handedly put a number of Grizzlies into foul trouble.
Dwight continued his stellar play with another crucial performance off the bench. Though the rest of the bench had unassuming nights, Howard was able to pick up five rebounds and sent back two shots along with a steal in a strong defensive effort. Despite only playing limited minutes in a timeshare with JaVale McGee, Howard has continually brought a high-energy approach that clearly spreads to anyone sharing the court with him.
Once again finish atop the team in plus/minus, Howard is doing all the little things that don’t show up in the box score but help put the Lakers in position to win. Although McGee hasn’t played poorly and it would be tough to remove Dwight from a second unit he has thrived as a part of so far, Howard may be playing himself into a starting job.
Second Quarter Defense
After an abysmal first quarter, the Lakers came out and righted the ship with an excellent defensive showing in the second quarter. Holding the Grizzlies to just 15 points, the Lakers were able to chip away at the early lead and went into the half with a two-point lead.
Especially after such a sloppy start, seeing the Lakers make adjustments so quickly speaks volumes to the defensive potential of a team still learning to play alongside one another. The second quarter defense would help set the tone for the rest of the game as the Lakers would hold Memphis to a much more respectable 20 points and 24 points in the third and fourth quarters.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Grizzlies
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s Shooting
Despite being on the court during the Lakers’ big run at the end of the third and early fourth quarter, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s shooting remains a cause for concern. While he knocked down a number of looks late in garbage time, KCP’s shot was once again absent during the majority of the game. His stat line might show a solid night shooting the ball (6-11) but those numbers don’t tell the whole story as he was 0-4 by the time the Lakers had built a 20 point lead.
This isn’t to criticize the rest of KCP’s game as he defended well and made smart reads on offense but the Lakers’ offense will function much more smoothly with him knocking down his open looks.
Laker Bench Minus Dwight
A number of Laker bench players finished with positive numbers in the plus/minus category but those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt as many shared the court with Anthony Davis when he went nuclear and torched the Grizzlies defense. A number of garbage time baskets helped pad the stat sheets but for the majority of the game, the Laker bench struggled to knock down open looks and create reliable offense.
Dwight Howard was a consistent bright spot throughout but the lack of a true facilitator on the second unit has become abundantly clear. Caruso hasn’t really been given the keys to run the offense and it seems as if the Lakers are waiting on Rajon Rondo to return from injury and assume that role.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Grizzlies
First Quarter Defense
Once again the Lakers got off to a slow start and found themselves facing an uphill battle after the first quarter. Letting the Grizzlies hand 32 points on them to start things off, the Lakers have let two inferior teams consecutively get off to a hot start. Although they were able to battle back in both games, a similarly slow start against one of the Western Conference’s elite would most likely spell a loss.
32 points in a quarter to the Memphis Grizzlies is inexcusable but given the fact the team has won three in a row, we’ll take it easy on the ugly department for tonight.