On a night that will be remembered for Pau Gasol’s jersey going up to the rafters, the Lakers stayed focused and beat Gasol’s original team, the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-103.. And in the fourth, with the game still very much up in the air, Anthony Davis and the Lakeshow shut down the struggling Grizzlies on the road.
In what has become more the norm than an anomaly, Davis was terrific tonight. He followed up his 38-point performance against the Warriors with 30 points and 22 rebounds tonight. His dominance in the paint got Jaren Jackson Jr. in trouble and helped him eliminate the Grizzlies in the fourth.
AD may attract attention, but Dennis Schröder and Austin Reaves were big tonight.
Dennis had 17 points and was big on the Lakers’ third-quarter push where they regained the lead and control of the game. Reaves continues to play on the ball more and more and looks good doing it. He had 17 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 32 minutes. The more his role increases, the higher his ceiling seems to be.
The Lakers are, dare I say, rolling. They have won two in a row, improved to 32-34 and are now sole possession of ninth place in the West, putting them back in play-in positioning with 16 games left.
The Grizzlies are a team that has struggled on the road. Going into tonight, 20 of their 25 losses have come from home. They played well defensively to start the game but had no response for AD. He had 13 points in the first quarter and helped the purple and gold stay in control.
With a slim lead, Reaves worked well with the second unit to hold Memphis at bay. He pushed the ball downfield and found open players, grabbed rebounds, created second-chance points and had the team’s second best plus-minus +5 at halftime.
The strong performance from the bench gave AD a few extra minutes of rest in the second quarter, which were further extended when he took a shot to the face that forced him to the locker room for another piece of the second.
When Davis returned, the Lakers were down seven points with less than three minutes left in the half. LA immediately looked better once he stepped on the floor with the Lakers forcing back-to-back turnovers and converting both possessions. They reduced the deficit to just one as we entered the break.
Halftime: Grizzlies 57, Lakers 56
Anthony Davis has 15 points and 10 rebounds. Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura each have 8 points. The Lakers have 30 points in the paint. They’re shooting just 21.1 percent from beyond the arc (4-19).
—Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) March 8, 2023
The half-time break is usually the time to use the restroom and grab some snacks and a drink or two.
Not this evening.
Tonight, the Lakers put Pau Gasol’s jersey in the rafters and not a seat was empty inside the Crypto.Com Arena. The tributes were sprinkled throughout the day with articles, videos and a pre-match press conference. It all culminated with the unveiling of his jersey right next to Kobe’s 8 and 24. Tears welled up in Pau’s eyes and I’m sure many of the Lakers faithful did as well.
With all the emotion and history of the Lakers in the air, there was still one game to play! Midway through the third, the Lakers regained the lead thanks to a pair of free throws from Davis and after an electric dunk from Troy Brown Jr., LA was back in the driver’s seat with a two-point lead entering the fourth.
But with the game on hold, Memphis raced 9-1 to regain the lead with ten minutes left. The Lakers responded by giving Anthony Davis the ball down the right side at every opportunity in the quarter. Dennis found AD running to the basket and after a pair of converted free throws and a dime from Davis to Rui Hachimura, the Lakers took a five-point lead and never looked back.
Key points to remember
There are myriad adjectives one can use to describe Antony Davis’ current form, but the one I would use is sensational. With LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell still out, he’s been all you could ask for; 38 points against the Timberwolves, 39 against the Warriors and 30 tonight. On a night where we honor a Laker great who was paired with another superstar in Los Angeles, AD reminds everyone why he’s an NBA Top 75 player and future Hall-of-Famer.
The Lakers will now face the Raptors on Friday with optimism that D-Lo can return to the roster. LA are just two games away from their goal of making the sixth seed, a goal that is now very much in play.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.