Ja Morant scores 28 points in the third; Grizzlies top shorthanded Lakers 121-109
There is no denying that very few players in the NBA have the motor like Ja Morant. His ability to take over a game effects many parts including creating turnovers, highlight dunks, clutch shots, and superstar assists. It was noticeable on Tuesday night that he was in some sort of zone all game long, but in the third quarter he was completely locked in. “I was just feeling it. I got going and was able to keep it rolling and put us in a good position to win the game,” Ja Morant emphasized after the game. Not only did he help the Grizzlies secure the lead, but also Morant had a 39-point, 10 assists, and 10-rebound game on 15 of 29 shooting from the floor. Even though Ja did not make a three-point field goal, he understood the assignment to attack the paint and utilize his mid-range when needed.
Four of the five starters for the Memphis Grizzlies ended the game in double-digits. Jaron Jackson Jr. (16 points), Xavier Tillman (18 points), Morant (39 points), and Desmond Bane (16 points) were held to 19.4% from three-point range, however they did combine for 86 points in the paint and only turned the ball over 7 times.
For the Los Angeles Lakers to compete and to win these close games it has to be about ball security in addition to taking and making high percentage shots. Although LeBron James is injured for the next several weeks in addition to D’Angelo Russell being injured and unavailable for the evening, the Lakers had a three-point lead going into halftime.
The root of the loss came from several factors, however the most important statistic for the Lakers was the 26 turnovers that the team had to end the night. Lakers head coach, Darvin Ham, was very complimentary to the Grizzlies defense, “A lot of that was cause and effect with our turnovers. They just forced their will on us in the paint.” Anthony Davis ended with 28 points and 19 rebounds, followed by Lonnie Walker IV with 21 points and 5 three-pointers made, Austin Reaves with 17 points and 7 assists.
The Lakers have no time to dwell on the turnovers or loss as they are now on the backend of a back-to-back in Oklahoma City tonight against the Thunder. The Memphis Grizzlies still hold the number 2 seed in the Western Conference and open March with a home back-to-back hosting Houston Rockets this evening.