After coming out in front of this franchise’s first sellout playoff audience in a decade, LeBron James and the Lakers promptly delivered one of the best first quarters in the history of the organization.
In the middle of boisterous applause after riotous applause from fans hungry for a return to the Lakers’ longstanding heritage of postseason success, Los Angeles jumped out to a 35-9 advantage.
With all of those exciting plays in the first quarter, not even Ja Morant was able to bring the Memphis Grizzlies back to prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from taking control of Game 3.
Los Angeles Lakers overcame Morant’s 24-point fourth quarter to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 111-101 on Saturday night, taking a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series. Anthony Davis finished the game with 31 points and 17 rebounds, and James finished with 25 points after Dillon Brooks was ejected for striking him in the groin. Morant scored 24 points in the fourth quarter.
The seventh-seeded Los Angeles Lakers turned in an outstanding performance in their long-awaited return to a genuine playoff setting for a club with 17 championships. Rui Hachimura came off the bench for the Lakers and scored 16 points in another good performance for the team. Before the game entered the second quarter, Los Angeles had a record-tying 26-point lead against Memphis, and the Grizzlies could not draw any closer than 13 points until the game’s last two minutes.
The Memphis agitator kicked James in the groin when Brooks was defending him around the midcourt area, which resulted in Brooks being dismissed 17 seconds into the second half. After a quick review of the tape, the referees decided to eject Brooks, which allowed James to get up and lead the Lakers to victory. Throughout this time, the player with the most points in NBA history was rolling about on the floor in agony.
“I didn’t remark,” James replied. It’s been much too long since I’ve done this. I’m not making any remarks. We could play well on our home court and took advantage of that opportunity by returning home. No statement was made. All we wanted to do was play well, resulting in victory. I don’t need to make remarks.”
Monday night in Los Angeles will be the start of Game 4.
Morant scored 45 points in his return game after missing the previous game with a sore right hand. He even scored 22 consecutive points for the Grizz during his stunning fourth quarter as they attempted to return from a 29-point deficit early in the game. Morant’s performance helped the Grizz come back from their deficiency. Towards the beginning of the match, he seemed timid and wore a black brace and padding on his hand. But, he gradually rediscovered his typical unguardable form.
Moreover, Morant contributed 13 assists and nine rebounds, but the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies could not completely recover from the lowest-scoring first quarter in the organization’s history.
“I believe we won by double digits in each of the final three quarters, so clearly, the first quarter very much damaged us,” Morant said. “I think we won by double digits in the following three quarters.” “(I) feel very fantastic, dude. There are certain things, it is obvious, that you have to bear with and put up with. During the last period of play, my only focus was on attempting to win the game. Everything was going well, and I was making shots, but I couldn’t push it over that hump.
Brooks was booed at every turn by the sellout crowd for the Lakers game, and he finished with only seven points on 3-for-13 shooting before being ejected from the competition. He garnered the ire of the Lakers fans for his actions during and after Game 2, when the 27-year-old Brooks labeled the 38-year-old James “old” and belittled James’ ability. This behavior occurred both during and after the game.
After the game, Brooks did not give an interview with any of the media. A short statement was all that Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins had to say about Brooks’ ejection: “Officials made a call.”
During the third quarter of this heated battle, the Lakers forward Hachimura received a technical foul for his violent response to a foul that had been called against him.
Apart from the rough play, the Lakers were in complete command of Game 3 until the Grizzlies made it a little more interesting in the final minutes, but they could never pull closer than nine points.
Jenkins remarked, “First quarter, I felt we were playing hard, (but) our offensive substantially hampered our defensive performance.” “First quarter, I thought we were playing hard,” “How our team battled throughout quarters 2, 3, and 4 demonstrated a lot of incredible resilience. We have to use this experience to grow as a group. We will show our true colors when we are forced to overcome obstacles.
The Grizzlies were led in scoring by Desmond Bane, who finished with 18 points.
During the pregame warmups and every time Brooks touched the ball in the game until he was ejected, Lakers fans booed and jeered at him. More significantly, the Lakers began the game with the same intensity they maintained throughout.
The Grizzlies’ offense struggled mightily in the first quarter, shooting 3 for 25 and turning the ball over six times. Brooks performed especially poorly, missing 10 of his first 12 shots and having little influence on the defensive side of the ball.
The Lakers head coach, Darvin Johnson, said this about the team’s fans: “I felt our audience was amazing.” We could feel their presence across the building. Because of how we competed, we can give them something to celebrate, and we thank God for that.
Over the history of the Grizzlies club, Brooks is the first player ever to get sent off the court during consecutive postseason games. He has been sent off the court six times throughout his career and has already served two bans for an accumulation of technical fouls during this season. The nine points they scored in the first quarter was the lowest total for any quarter recorded by an NBA club this season.
D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers finished with 17 points. In the first quarter, he had a four-point play, which was the first play of its kind for the Lakers in a playoff game since Kobe Bryant accomplished it in 2009. The 17-time NBA champions last played in front of a sold-out crowd in the playoffs in 2013. The Lakers skipped the following six postseasons, and their run to the championship in 2020 took place outside of the state of Florida’s bubble. As a result of the constraints imposed by COVID-19, they held three first-round games in 2021 in an arena that was only half filled.