With an opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 lead back to Los Angeles, the Lakers slept-walk in Game 2, losing to the Memphis Grizzlies 103-93.
Despite being without Ja Morant and already being shorthanded as it is, the Grizzlies came out with a sense of urgency the Lakers didn't match as the series is now tied.
Outside of a roaring third-quarter run, the Grizzlies maintained control of the game thanks to the trio of Jaren Jackson Jr., Xavier Tillman and Desmond Bane.
After a balanced attack in Game 1, the Lakers’ offense struggled in the first half as the team shot just 35.7 % from the field and only LeBron James hit double-digit points at the break. James ended the night with 28 points and 10 rebounds
A big reason for the drop-off in efficiency was due to a surprisingly poor Anthony Davis game. Memphis made Davis work for everything on Wednesday night. He went 1-9 in the first half after being constantly doubled, fronted and heavily contested at the rim. John Konchar in particular had a pair of impressive blocks on Davis.
By halftime, the Grizzlies were up by 15 points and were firmly in the driver’s seat.
IT'S A BLOCK PARTY IN MEMPHIS.— NBA (@NBA) April 20, 2023
JOHN KONCHAR'S TURN.
: TNT | Game 2 | LAL Leads 1-0 pic.twitter.com/6ylUyvCze7
Things continued to snowball for Los Angeles as they continued to struggle from the field and couldn't get enough stops in the early segments of the third quarter.
One of the players who stepped up most in Morant’s absence was Xavier Tillman. The center scored 22 points and pulled down 13 rebounds on the night. Behind the efforts of Tillman and company, the deficit ballooned to as much as 20.
The Lakers finally responded after their lackadaisical first half with a 17-3 run of their own. Rui Hachimura played a pivotal role in the run, as his scoring helped cut the lead down to six. After some questioned the validity of his big Game 1, Hachimura proved his 29-point performance wasn’t a fluke as he ended the game with 20 points off the bench.
Like they did all game, Memphis weathered the storm and maintained a double-digit entering the final frame.
The Lakers hung around in the final few minutes, but the Grizzlies closed them out for good after Bane made four consecutive free throws with under three minutes left in the game. After another missed D’Angelo Russell jumper (ended the night 2-11 from the field) the last hope for a comeback was gone for good.
Lakers’ Nation will undoubtedly feel as though an opportunity was wasted by not beating the Grizzlies without their best player. Instead of having a commanding 2-0 lead heading home, they will have to be satisfied with a road split.
Although a split is typically good in a playoff series as the road team, the team's goal to get “greedy” was not met on Wednesday. With the series now shifting to Los Angeles for the next pair of games, the Lakers can not have another performance like they did in Game 2 if they hope to win this series.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.