Welp, it was the Anthony Davis show last night at the Staples Center.
He finished the night with 40 points and 20 rebounds in a 120-91 Lakers win over the Grizzlies. It began as a promising night for the Grizzlies as they went up by double digits early. This was due to solid defense setting up for Memphis to play at their pace. At the end of the first half, the Lakers only led by two points.
However, after a bit of back and forth at the beginning of the quarter, the score blew open. The Grizzlies were up 65-59, and then the Lakers ended the third quarter on a 29-2 run to put the Lakers up 88-67. Memphis did not score in the last 5:47 of the third quarter. Another negative being that they gave up 14 points off free throws to Anthony Davis as well in this quarter. Yes, it is hard to keep up when the Lakers are playing at peak performance, but a run like that falls back on the Grizzlies as well.
Outside of Anthony Davis going off, the Grizzlies have had a huge problem of giving up third quarter runs. This is something that must be adjusted at halftime. They have lost the majority of the third quarters this season, and this is not sustainable if the Grizzlies want to compete in these games down the stretch. Taylor Jenkins and company need to find a way to fix this trend.
Now, on to grades:
Ja Morant- B
No matter the outcome, it is hard to get upset with Ja Morant. He is just so electric for this team to where not much else matters. Morant finished the night as the leading scorer on the team with 16 points on 6-13 shooting. It was a solid performance from Morant even as the game broke down in the second half. It was his first taste of playing in the Staples Center, and he did exactly what you wanted him to do in this situation. He will always be making plays like this.
Dillon Brooks- C-
A quiet night for Dillon Brooks as he finished the game with 8 points on 2-7 shooting in 23 minutes. Not the offensive production needed in a game against one of the top teams in the league. If this team expects to compete on a regular basis, Brooks is going to be a key link to that strategy.
Jae Crowder- C+
Given the defensive expectations, this game was an average game for Jae Crowder. He was mainly matched up against LeBron James and that is one defensive task that takes everything out of you. He played well containing him in the first half as the game stayed close. LeBron ended up still scoring 23 points, but Crowder showed off some decent defensive skills throughout this game.
Jaren Jackson Jr.- D
This grade may be tough, but it the grade he will continue to receive until Jaren Jackson Jr. learns to defend without fouling. Yes, Anthony Davis is one of the best big men in the game, however, it does not mean there is no way to defend without fouling. Jackson Jr. once again found himself in foul trouble in this game. It is unbelievably frustrating since this has become a trend early in this season, and has been a problem last year, plus in college at Michigan State. It disrupts his own rhythm and then the rhythm of the rotations throughout the game. Anthony Davis still had 27 free throw attempts, but the foul trouble had Jaren Jackson on the bench, and the Grizzlies playing smaller than they wanted to against this Lakers’ team.
Jonas Valanciunas- B-
Valanciunas probably had the biggest impact to this lineup in this one. He played early on and was dominating Javale McGee in the post. He was getting strong boards that kept Anthony Davis in check to somewhat in the first half. Valanciunas finished the game with a double-double, 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was a solid offensive game, but he was still limited trying to work back into the lineup from the foot injury. When Jackson and him were off, the flood gates opened up, but it was just a matter of time given the circumstances of this game.
It is hard to flat out blame the bench for the loss tonight. As the big men on the bench were playing most of the third quarter, it does not fall back solely on them to change the outcome of that one. Brandon Clarke was completely outmatched by Anthony Davis even finishing with 10 points of his one. The telling stat was his +/- was -32. Even if that stat doesn’t paint a full picture, that is not ideal from someone playing 19 minutes.
Another contributor off the bench was Grayson Allen. He had 13 points in 21 minutes but had an even worse +/- at -36. Allen and Clarke were the only two bench players to score in double figues which is quite telling becuase of the amount of garbage time there was in this one.
The Grizzlies need to throw this one out and act like it didn’t happen. It was only a quick Los Angeles trip as the Grizzlies head back home to Memphis for a three-game home stand. Next game isn’t until Saturday, November 2nd at 7:00 CST against the Phoenix Suns. Win that and move forward.