The Lakers committed 22 turnovers, allowed 14 offensive rebounds to a Memphis Grizzlies team missing several key players, and lost 108-95 to drop to 13-13 on the season in an embarrassing and disastrous defeat.
The Lakers started off firing on all cylinders on offense, scoring 29 points in the first quarter as the team’s big three moved the ball crisply and even reeled off a nice sequence that saw Talen Horton-Tucker, LeBron James and Anthony Davis all storm down the lane for dunks.
But every lineup that saw the court Friday played horrendous defense, even by 2021-22 Lakers standards. The Lakers played like they were actively avoiding boxing out the paint, allowing Memphis to get numerous second-chance points. As the second quarter continued, that laziness extended to the offensive end, and both James and Russell Westbrook tried to force lazy pass after lazy pass into areas with multiple Grizzly defenders.
Aside from a brief third-quarter run to get back into the game — one that was still a far cry from the team’s recent third-quarter success — the Lakers looked completely disinterested in competing, and Memphis’s scrappy role players took advantage.
L.A. entered FedEx Forum as favorites because the Grizzlies were essentially playing half of their G-League team. Memphis is currently missing Ja Morant, Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke and Zaire Williams due to injury, and got even more bad news earlier Thursday when Dillon Brooks was placed in coronavirus health and safety protocols. There is just zero excuse whatsoever for a loss like this when guys like Desmond Bane are in the starting lineup and Killian Tille is seeing heavy minutes off the bench. No disrespect to Bane and Tille, but a team relying on those guys, Jeren Jackson Jr., and whatever Steven Adams has left in the tank should be no match for a trio of LeBron, AD, and Russ. But here we are.
A silver lining — if you can even find such a thing on a night like this — is that LeBron James recorded the 100th triple-double of his career with a 20-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist showing. James becomes the fifth player in NBA history to reach that mark, joining his current teammate Westbrook (the all-time leader at 109), Oscar Robertson, new HBO character Magic Johnson and former Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd.
But James and Westbrook also combined for 11 of those 22 turnovers, a humiliating night for two of the best-regarded passers in the NBA. It’s especially disappointing to see these veteran leaders play so disinterested after an exhilarating win like the one they got on Tuesday against the Celtics, which appeared to be something they could build some momentum upon.
Come to think of it, here’s the “Winning Time” trailer again. Go watch this, remember a time when the Lakers were good, and try to flush away the memory of tonight’s game.
The Lakers will get their chance to do the same when they head to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Friday night in the second leg of this back-to-back.