The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten themselves off to a solid start at 2-1, in fact, the Lakers haven’t started a season 2-1 since the 2010-11 campaign coming off their back to back titles. With heaps of optimism surrounding the Lakers for the first time in years, the defensive turnaround deserves the bulk of the credit.
After a slow start in their season opener against Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, the Lakers defense clamped down and held the Utah Jazz to only 86 points. While they struggled in the first half against the Hornets, the Laker defense allowed a measly 18 points in the third quarter and only 21 in the fourth as they pulled away for a resounding victory. With a pair of solid defensive showings under their belt and a winning record heading into a relatively light stretch of the schedule, the Lakers have the opportunity to get off to an excellent start in the LeBron James–Anthony Davis era.
Los Angeles Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup
Ja Morant Leads Upstart Memphis Grizzlies Against Lakers
For as good as the Lakers have looked, Memphis surprisingly hasn’t looked all that bad. Behind rookie point guard Ja Morant and developing second-year standout Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies are coming off a big overtime win against the Brooklyn Nets. Morant leads the team in both scoring and assists with averages of 18 and six respectively. Hanging 30 in a near double-double against the Nets, Morant is coming off his best game as a professional by far and should be riding high as the Grizzlies head in once again as massive underdogs.
As exciting as Morant was against the Nets, that sort of success shouldn’t be expected to be sustained at this point for the Grizzlies. Featuring a roster packed with so much young talent, the Grizzlies are undoubtedly an exciting basketball team but don’t feature the necessary experience to win on a regular basis in the NBA just yet. While occasional slip-ups will happen (take the Nets game for example) the Grizzlies are a team the Lakers will need to beat up on if they fancy themselves championship contenders.
Look for another big night from Dwight Howard off the bench as the Grizzlies’ second unit lacks any sort of size in the frontcourt. Dwight has been playing exceptionally well to start the season and is coming off a game that saw him pick up 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks en route to a team-high +23 plus/minus on the night. Brandon Clarke has some talent for the Grizzlies but expect the rookie backup to be unable to handle the veteran NBA center. Howard has been playing so well, in fact, that a move up to the starting lineup might not be out of the question in the near future.