On Wednesday night, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 103-93 to square their first-round Western Conference series at 1-1. All-Star guard Ja Morant could not play due to a hand injury, but Xavier Tillman scored a career-high 22 points and had 13 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
Memphis benched No. 2 seed Morant after he had a setback with the right-hand injury he suffered on April 7 during a victory at Milwaukee and then worsened the injury when driving to the basket in the Grizzlies’ season-opening defeat to the Lakers. After completing the remaining tests on his hand, he was placed on the bench and instructed to watch the game while his hand was bandaged.
The efforts of Morant’s teammates more than compensated for his absence. The Grizzlies led by as many as 20 points, and their supporters were waving their towels and yelling “Whoop That Trick” with 30 seconds remaining in the game, which ensured that Game 5 of this series would be played in Memphis. The Grizzlies were able to squeak out a victory in the last few seconds of the game.
Jaren Jackson Jr. named the Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA, scored 18 points for the Memphis Grizzlies. Tyus Jones scored 10 points and dished out eight assists while coming in for Morant. Desmond Bane finished with 17 points. Dillon Brooks contributed 12 points, while Luke Kennard scored 13.
With 28 points and 12 rebounds, LeBron James was the leading scorer for the Lakers. Rui Hachimura, who plays in reserve, had another good effort, scoring 20 points. Anthony Davis had a terrible game after earning a double-double in the series’ first game. He shot only 4 of 14 from the field and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Lakers, who had won 11 of their previous 13 games, saw their four-game winning run end. They will now play Game 3 at home on Saturday night despite never having a lead larger than three points, and that advantage only lasted until the very first points of the game.
In the first quarter, Memphis grabbed control of the game with a run of 22-8 that included back-to-back three-pointers in 10 seconds from freshman David Roddy and then Kennard, who also drew a foul for a four-point play.
After the first quarter, Memphis had a lead of 30-19 thanks to 10 baskets scored by Bane. Jackson sank his first 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining, and the Grizzlies headed into the half leading the Lakers 59-44 after outscoring them in the second quarter 29-25.
The Memphis advantage reached a high of 66-46, but the Lakers were able to cut it down to 73-67 thanks to Hachimura’s 11 points scored in the third. The Grizzlies could conclude the third period on a 10-4, which increased their advantage to 83-71 heading into the fourth.
The closest that LeBron James’ layup brought the Lakers in the fourth quarter was 94-88, 3 minutes and 10 seconds before the game’s conclusion. It took five consecutive points for Memphis to get back into double digits.
Lakers: They ended up being outrebounded by Memphis 49-47, but they tied Memphis’ scoring in the paint at 50 each after being outscored in the paint by Memphis 38-20 in the first half…. After a game in which he scored 23 points, Austin Reaves finished with 12 points. Throughout this game, he had a shooting percentage of five for twelve… D’Angelo Russell scored five points and shot five of eleven shots after scoring 19 in the first game.
Before the first tip, Jackson was honored with the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award by the Grizzlies… Since the conference semifinals of the previous season, Morant has not been able to participate in any of the Grizzlies’ postseason games due to various injuries.
Tillman scored more points in the first quarter than in the opening game, which they lost. He nailed his first six shots, but then he missed his seventh, which was a 3-pointer he was attempting to beat the buzzer with, but it struck the rim to the right instead. His total of rebounds at the end of the season was a season-best.
Reserve John Konchar also had his moment, as he went well up to block all the balls on a shot Davis took in the second quarter.