Picking up yet another comeback win in the second leg of their back to back, the Lakers took down the Memphis Grizzlies on the road in a gritty effort. Behind strong efforts from LeBron James and Anthony Davis down the stretch, the Lakers were able to overcome the ten-point hole they found themselves in after the first quarter. Rajon Rondo also came to play and stepped up for the Lakers in the absence of their two defensive backcourt wizards – Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley.
The game was a tough back and forth affair that would up coming down to the final buzzer. Thankfully for the Lakers, Anthony Davis was able to defend a last-second inbound attempt by Grizzlies that could have won them the game. With the win, the Lakers improved to 14-2 and continue their stranglehold on the league’s best record.
Lakers vs. Grizzlies Score/Result
Lakers Win – 109-108
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Grizzlies
With Bradley and Caruso both on the shelf, the Lakers were forced to lean on Rajon Rondo. Rondo proved to be one of the lone bright spots in the Laker win and finished with 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Finding himself in the middle of numerous plays on both ends of the court, Rondo was one of only three Lakers to finish with a positive rating during what was a brutal first half.
Rondo’s playmaking ability and high basketball IQ opens up the second unit and his presence was a large reason as to why – in a change of roles – the bench somewhat carried the starting lineup in the first half. Coming off the calf injury that held him out for an extended period to start the year, Rondo seems to be assimilating into the roster very nicely.
The Third Quarter
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green finally got some looks to start the second half and started knocking down big three-pointers, finally erasing the big lead the Grizzlies had built up. Outscoring the Grizzlies 30-21 in the third, the Lakers were able to finally get things on track and earned themselves a gritty come from behind win.
Along with KCP and Green helping to close the gap, LeBron James had himself a very strong third quarter and repeatedly came up with big baskets as the Lakers and Grizzlies traded buckets towards the end of the quarter.
Anthony Davis’ Defense
Davis didn’t have the most dominant night offensively, however, he piled up some gaudy numbers on the defensive end. With five blocks and three steals, Davis was one of the few Lakers applying defensive pressure throughout. Making a serious early case to be considered for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award, Davis continues to be the anchor of the Laker defense. While the pieces around him struggled to contain the Grizzlies’ shooting from deep, Davis undoubtedly did his job across the entire game and made life tougher on the interior for the Grizzlies.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Grizzlies
Without Bradley and Caruso in the lineup, the Lakers clearly struggled to figure out some of their rotations early on. That said, the perimeter defense was an issue all night. Allowing the Grizzlies to shoot an absurd 46% from deep on 30 shots, the Grizzlies were effectively able to find a way around the Lakers’ strong rim protection. This game showed just how thin things are for the Lakers at guard and just how badly they need both Caruso and Bradley back in the lineup.
Rondo had a good game, as did Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, neither offers the defensive presence that Caruso and Bradley bring to the table on a nightly basis.
Fourth Quarter Offense
The Lakers only scored 24 points in a pivotal fourth quarter, by far their lowest mark of any quarter in the game. The team was clearly tired playing yet another close game in the second leg of a back to back, so they’ll mostly get a pass on this one – especially considering they wound up picking up the win.
First Half DefenseFrom the Lakers’ Win Over the Grizzlies
Once again, the Lakers started out slow in what is now becoming a somewhat scary trend. Giving up 60+ points AGAIN, this time to the young and inexperienced Grizzlies, the Lakers’ early-game struggles are undoubtedly worrisome. While some of this can be chalked up to playing the second game of a back to back, the fact that it has become a repeated trend is something that the Lakers will need to figure out moving forward.
Re-introducing Caruso and Bradley to the lineup should certainly help but the problems were prevalent even with both of the Lakers’ lockdown guards active.