On a night that will be remembered for Pau Gasol’s jersey going up to the rafters, the Lakers stayed focused and beat the team Gasol was originally drafted by, the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-103. And in the fourth, with the game still very much up in the air, Anthony Davis and the Lakeshow closed out the road-struggling Grizzlies.
In what’s become more of the norm than an anomaly, Davis was great tonight. He followed up his 38-point performance against the Warriors with 30 points and 22 rebounds tonight. His dominance in the paint got Jaren Jackson Jr. in foul trouble and helped him close out the Grizzlies in the fourth.
AD may get most of the attention, but Dennis Schröder and Austin Reaves were big tonight.
Dennis had 17 points and was big during the Lakers' third-quarter push where they retook the lead and control of the game. Reaves continues to play more and more on-ball and looks good while doing it. He had 17 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 32 minutes. The more his role increases, the higher his ceiling seems to be.
The Lakers are, dare I say, rolling. They have won two in a row, improved to 32-34 and are now in sole possession of ninth place, in the West which puts them back in the play-in positioning with 16 games left.
The Grizzlies are a team that has struggled on the road. Entering tonight, 20 of their 25 losses have come away from home. They played well defensively to start the game but didn’t have an answer for AD. He had 13 points in the opening quarter and helped the purple and gold stay in control.
With a slim lead, Reaves worked well with the second unit to keep Memphis at bay. He was pushing the ball up the court and finding open players, grabbing rebounds, creating second-chance points and had the second-best plus-minus +5 on the team at the half.
The bench’s good performance gave AD a couple of extra minutes of rest in the second quarter, which was extended even more when he took a shot to the face that caused him to go to the locker room for another chunk of the second.
When Davis returned, the Lakers were down by seven with under three minutes left in the half. L.A. immediately looked better once he stepped on the floor with the Lakers forcing back-to-back turnovers and converting on both possessions. They cut the deficit down to just one as we entered the break.
Halftime: Grizzlies 57, Lakers 56— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) March 8, 2023
Anthony Davis has 15 points and 10 rebounds. Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura each have 8 points. The Lakers have 30 points in the paint. They’re shooting just 21.1% from beyond the arc (4-19).
The halftime break is usually a time to use the restroom and get snacks and a beverage or two.
Tonight the Lakers were putting Pau Gasol’s jersey up in the rafters and not a seat was empty inside Crypto.Com Arena. The tributes were sprinkled in all day long with articles, videos, and a pre-game press conference. It all culminated with his jersey being unveiled right next to Kobe’s 8 and 24. Tears wellled up in Pau’s eyes and I’m certain it was for many of the Lakers faithful as well.
The Lakers retire Pau Gasol's jersey right next to Kobe's pic.twitter.com/Y5QXa6mIlN— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 8, 2023
With all the emotion and Laker history in the air, a game still had to be played! Midway through the third the Lakers retook the lead thanks to a pair Davis free throws and after an electric Troy Brown Jr. dunk, L.A. was back in the driver's seat with a two-point lead entering the fourth.
But with the game hanging in the balance, Memphis went on a 9-1 run to regain the lead with ten minutes left. The Lakers responded giving Anthony Davis the ball on the right-hand side at every opportunity in the quarter. Dennis found AD running towards the basket and after a pair of converted free throws and a Davis dime to Rui Hachimura, the Lakers took a five-point lead and never looked back.
There are a myriad of adjectives one can use to describe Antony Davis’ current form but the one I’d go with is sensational. With LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell still out, he’s been everything you could ask for; 38 points against the Timberwolves, 39 against the Warriors and 30 tonight. On a night where we are honoring a Laker big who was paired with another superstar in Los Angeles, AD is reminding all of why he is an NBA Top 75 player and a future Hall-of-Famer.
The Lakers will now face the Raptors on Friday with optimism that D-Lo can make his return to the lineup. L.A. is just two games back from their goal of making the sixth seed, a goal that is now very much in play.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.