Editor’s note: As we wait for real NBA basketball to return, we’re going to simulate the rest of the games that the Los Angeles Lakers have on their schedule on NBA 2K20.
“Playoff LeBron James” made his Los Angeles debut on Saturday night, and it was well-worth the wait. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 112-101 in their first playoff game since 2013, and James made sure it was a memorable one.
In 42 minutes — tied for the game-high with Anthony Davis — James tallied 29 points. 12 rebounds, 8 assists, five steals and a block. 15 of his 29 points came from behind the arc, where he made five of his 11 attempts. Even with Justise Winslow available for Saturday night’s game, the Grizzlies had no answer for the three-time Finals MVP.
If this is the LeBron James the Lakers are going to get for the duration of the postseason, it’s hard to imagine any of their contests being boring.
Anthony Davis was also incredible, which, under the circumstances, was unexpected. Not only do the Grizzlies have good size up front between Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr., but Davis was listed as questionable going into the game with the broken nose he suffered in the Lakers’ regular season finale against the Phoenix Suns.
While Davis was reluctant to challenge the Grizzlies in the paint in the first quarter, he gained some of his confidence back in the second quarter after enjoying success against the Grizzlies’ undersized backup bigs. Davis ended the night with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The Lakers knew what they were going to get from James and Davis, though. The biggest question going into the postseason was who the the third star was going to be, and while that will surely change on a night-to-night basis, it was Dwight Howard on Saturday.
For the second time this season, Howard recorded a double-double with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He last did it against the Cleveland Cavaliers in January.
With how strong Valanciunas is, the Lakers needed someone who wasn’t going to get easily backed down in the paint, and Howard was just the man for the job. As a result, Valanciunas ended his night with just 9 points on 3-8 shooting from the field.
From Howard’s 22 and 10 night to Rajon Rondo’s remarkable 14-assist performance, Saturday night was a good reminder of how many proven veterans the Lakers have on their roster, especially compared to the Grizzlies. Let’s hope they can assert their dominance again on Monday.