We wondered how the Grizzlies would respond to the worst loss in franchise history. A 61 point drubbing at the hands of the Hornets felt like a season crushing moment, a moment to lay down, give it up for the remainder of the year.
Not this team. A loss all the same, but Memphis showed heart in this 100-93 defeat.
They came out from the get go aggressive, attacking, forcing the Los Angeles Lakers to play their brand of basketball (whatever that consistently is). The young guys, especially Andrew Harrison (20 points, four rebounds, nine assists) and Jarell Martin (10 points/10 rebounds), played strong and confident.
JaMychal Green was everywhere, grabbing every rebound in the building before fouling out with 17 points and 16 boards on 70 percent shooting. And Marc Gasol stepped in at the right times to give his team a boost, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
It just wasn’t enough for a sellout crowd at FedExForum. A stagnant third quarter allowed the Lakers and Lonzo Ball to catch up. They salted it away in the fourth, winning by a final score of 100-93.
“We put ourselves in a position to win the game,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “instead of playing free or playing with confidence, you freeze up. You lock up. You start playing not to lose instead of playing to win, and I think that happened to us tonight.”
The Lakers were led by Ball’s near triple double of 12 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Kyle Kuzma recorded a 23 point, 10 rebound double-double, and Julius Randle, who was a force to be reckoned with down low all night gave LA a particularly strong 20 and 11. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributed 18 points, and Travis Wear hit 11 critical points—all in the second quarter—off the bench.
The Grizzlies took the fight to their opponents in the first quarter, leading 28-17 after 12 minutes. Memphis attacked the Lakers, taking and making shots around the rim. The home team shot 57.1 percent in the quarter, a number which actually feels low for how well it played offensively. Green had seven points and Martin had six aggressive points through one. Each grabbed five rebounds in the quarter as the team out rebounded the Lakers 13 to seven.
The Lakers shot poorly in the first quarter to say the least. Ball did hit one three pointer, but also clanked two others in the period. His team shot below 30 percent in the first, hitting just three of 10 from distance. Kuzma was the lone Laker standout with seven points on three of nine shooting.
The second quarter saw an improvement from LA as they trailed by just five, 57-52, at half. The team improved its shooting hitting 13 of 24 shots and five of 10 from three. Randle made his presence felt in the quarter, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in the period. Bench marksman Travis Wear also became a problem, hunting threes in transition, canning three of five from deep for 11 points in the quarter.
Green and Harrison led all scorers at the half with 11 apiece, and Green added eight rebounds to his line. Gasol also contributed 10 first half points. Memphis continued to shoot 57+ percent as it feasted in the paint, more than doubling the Lakers paint scoring with a 34-16 point discrepancy. Considering Memphis made just two three pointers through 24 minutes, their paint scoring was essential.
"10 day or 10 year vet... competing and playing as hard as you can every time you wear the jersey is non-negotiable. Anybody that doesn't do that as long as I'm here, you're going to have a tough time" -- Marc Gasol on 4Q of effort— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 25, 2018
After there, both teams headed into the final period tied, not only in points, but in a number of categories. Aside from the 71-71 score, both teams collected 30 rebounds, dished 16 assists, nabbed seven steals, and coughed it up 10 times.
The Grizzlies went cold in the quarter, scoring only 14 points, just TWO of which were in the paint and THREE of which came from beyond the arc. Their field goal percentage dropped by 10 percentage points by quarter’s end. Harrison was the only positive impact, scoring six points and grabbing three boards in the period. The Lakers weren’t that much better, only generating 19 points, eight of which came from the fingers of Lonzo Ball.
At least Grizz finally got his revenge on his archnemesis Natch...
OHMYGOODNESS HE FLIPPED AND CRUSHED HIS SOUL pic.twitter.com/jqurkn8AzC— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 25, 2018
The Grizzlies will play again Monday evening against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis at 7 p.m. CT.