Tempers flared as the teams headed to the locker room at the half, with Sharpe getting into it with Grizzlies players and Ja Morant’s father, Tee Morant. The sides were separated and cooler heads prevailed, with Morant and Sharpe patching things up later. However, it became a viral talking point during the nationally televised contest.
Sharpe spoke to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and said it started over some comments he had made to Memphis wing Dillon Brooks about his defense on James.
“They didn’t want this smoke,” Sharpe told McMenamin. “They do all that talking and jockeying and I ain’t about that jockeying. It started with Dillon Brooks. I said he was too small to guard LeBron. He said, ‘F—‘ me. I said, ‘F— you’ back. He started to come at me, and I said, ‘You don’t want these problems.’ And then Ja came out of nowhere talking. He definitely didn’t want these problems. Then the dad came and he obviously didn’t want no problems.
“But I wanted anything they had. Don’t let these fools fool you now.”
James was asked about the incident after the game and firmly backed Sharpe — who is a vocal supporter of James on his show, “Undisputed.”
“I ride with Shannon 365 days — 366 on a leap year — 24/7. So that’s my guy,” James said in his postgame press conference. “I always got his back. And he’s got mine. He can talk with the best of them, for sure.”
Dillion Books Annoyed by Confrontation After Loss
While James was game to talk about the half-time distraction, Brooks was not so much after the Grizzlies lost in heartbreaking fashion.
“I ain’t talking about that. You can ask him. He’s the blogger or whatever he is. I don’t really care about all that. Next question,” Brooks said.
He expanded a bit, expressing that he didn’t think Sharpe should have been allowed to stick around.
“A regular pedestrian like him? No. He should have never come back in the game, but it’s LA,” Brooks said.
For what it’s worth, Brooks did a solid job on James defensively. The 38-year-old had been on a scoring tear but finished with 23 points on 8-of-21 shooting. But James finds multiple ways to impact the game, adding nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a pair of steals.
“He doesn’t want to go left. I was just making him go left all game,” Brooks said of James. “Then he would settle or he would pass the ball. And then play physical with him. Continuously bump him all of the time. And don’t let him take easy shots.”
Schroder the Hero For Lakers in Win Over Grizzlies
While the incident with Sharpe made some headlines, on the court, the Lakers battled back late to come away with one of their more significant wins of the season.
With less than 10 seconds left in the game, Dennis Schröder stole the ball from Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane and converted an and-1 floater on the other end to give the Lakers a two-point lead.
“We wanted to trap first before we fouled,” Schröder said. “I saw Bane catch the ball, he had his back to me and I made a play. I got the steal, pushed the ball, got fouled and finished the play.”
Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke had a chance to send the game to overtime at the free-throw line but missed the second shot, letting the Lakers escape with the win and end Memphis’ 11-game win streak.
The Lakers had lost four of five entering the matchup with Memphis, with their last three coming by a combined 10 points. The Lakers were finally on the right end of a late surge against the Grizzlies and coach Darvin Ham thinks it could be the start of something positive.
“To get a win like this is a momentum swing,” Ham said. “The guys were kind of down after the Sacramento game, but we addressed areas that we needed to get better. There’s no way we win this game if we didn’t have the type of fight that we had.”
The Lakers will look to keep things rolling on Sunday against Portland, which has lost two in a row.