On a night when LeBron James achieved the first 20-20 game of his career, when the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead and moved onto the brink of pulling a first-round upset on the Memphis Grizzlies, the most improbable victory the Lakers have had came off the court and after the game.
The Grizzlies have built a reputation as a team willing to talk to the media at any given moment and provide plenty of bulletin board material, but the Lakers have done what no one before them has.
Shut them up.
After Monday’s loss, Dillon Brooks, for the second straight game, left the arena without talking to the media.
Dillon Brooks didn’t speak to reporters for the second straight game. “I’m out,” he said.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 25, 2023
That one isn’t much of a surprise as Brooks ducked the media after being ejected in Game 3. But joining him was his star point guard, who also ducked media availability postgame.
Ja Morant also skipped media availability.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 25, 2023
Memorably, these two have provided perhaps the most notable soundbites in recent years about their team. It’s been less than a week since Brooks said “I poke bears” before putting up back-to-back disasterclass performances. Monday’s was topped off with a foul on LeBron’s and-one that sealed the win for the Lakers.
Morant, meanwhile, hasn’t done much talking this series but certainly did more than enough in previous years. Memorably, he doubled down earlier this season on his “I’m fine in the West” comment when referencing the Grizzlies and any potential opponents they worry about in the conference.
While there is still one more game, at the very least, the Grizzlies were not simply “fine in the West” as, at best for them, they’ll have to overcome a 3-1 deficit to make it to the second round.
It’s certainly possible, but a team refusing to speak to the media after a loss like Monday does not seem like one ready to batten down the hatches. There are any number of ways you could spin them ducking the media, but considering how young they are and how much they’ve been talking, it certainly looks like a team set to unravel.
For now, the Lakers can settle for shutting the Grizzlies up, a truly remarkable accomplishment.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.