The Los Angeles Lakers are down to 17-19 this season after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, 104-99.
Los Angeles had the advantage for most of the game. The Grizzlies struggled to score 3 points in the first half and ended the 24-minute period shooting a weak 14% from depths. Despite the low percentage, the Lakers led by just six points at halftime.
The Lakers then advanced strongly in the third quarter, building a 14-point lead with LeBron James and Malik Monk hitting 3s in the race. However, as has been the case this season, Los Angeles blew their heads off.
Ja Morant led the return, reversing his first six attempts within 3 points of the game.
The Lakers had a chance to tie the game in the dying seconds, but no one attempted to shoot and James ended up throwing him away. LA has only collected 16 points in the last 12 minutes.
Here’s how the Lakers ranked individually after an embarrassing collapse:
Every player makes mistakes. Russell Westbrook does so blatantly. The Lakers had a key moment late in the game to close the gap, but Westbrook missed an open layup in transition. It wasn’t the only one, however. He stopped LA’s momentum late in the first half with a turnaround, a missed shot from a bad angle, and lazy defense all in one streak.
He tallied 16 points on 16 shots while his clash, Morant, exploded to 41 points, eclipsing 40 for the second time in a row against the Lakers.
Westbrook ended the night with a 16-point triple-double, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, but much of that loss rests on his shoulders.
Avery Bradley had a strong first quarter. His seven points came in that gap: a 3-point pointer, a float, and a curving float to the edge of a wide pindown. But he didn’t have an impact on the game beyond that. He finished 1 of 5 deep and committed five faults. He couldn’t slow down Morant late in the game as he guarded the young star.
Malik Monk continues to do more than he gets paid for. The 23-year-old goaltender who is on minimum contract had an efficient evening of 15 points, shooting 6 of 9 overall and 2 of 5 deep. He added three rebounds, an assist and a steal with a plus-12 differential.
Monk was the only Laker who could consistently help James when the offense needed buckets. It was the second straight solid game for Monk in the starting lineup, so he deserves to stick with it.
There isn’t much more that LeBron can do. He finished with 37 points, his sixth consecutive 30-point outing, on 13 of 25 shots in total and 8 of 14 from deep. He was 6 of 7 at one point before he started straining towards the end of the game. James added 13 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks, which is still amazing for someone who is 37. The Lakers spoiled another incredible performance from The King.
Carmelo Anthony had an evening to forget off the bench. After dropping 24 points the day before, Anthony couldn’t buy a shot. He shot 2 of 11 overall and 1 of 8 from the depths in 30 minutes. He was a handicap at both ends of the pitch, especially when playing in the middle. David Fizdale stayed with him, but it didn’t pay off.
Stanley Johnson isn’t the 3-point threat that Carmelo is, but he should have gotten more minutes from Anthony. Johnson played 23 minutes and had seven points on a 3-of-5 shot, three rebounds, two blocks and one steal. He also hit 1 of 3 deep, which is a clip the Lakers will take given his 29.7% career rate. He is expected to take DeAndre Jordan’s place since the veteran center got another DNP-CD.
Talen Horton-Tucker’s struggles persisted against the Grizzlies. He played 19 minutes off the bench, even during crisis time in the fourth, which wasn’t a smart move given the spacing adjustment. He ended the night with a 2 of 7 clip and missed both attempts by 3 points. He’s had five rebounds, two assists and a block, including a good time of possession save in the third quarter to help extend the lead, but he’s still a long way from the player the Lakers hope to become.