Behind a rout, the Lakers are now only the sixth seven seed to take down a two-seed after finishing off the Memphis Grizzlies, 125-85, in Game 6.
Despite the stakes, the game was never in question as the Lakers dominated from the tip behind a 22-point performance from LeBron James, a 16 points and 14 rebound outing from Anthony Davis and a breakout D’Angelo Russell game who ended the night with 31 points.
The victory punches the Lakers’ ticket to the second round where they will face the winner between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings.
It was a total team effort on Friday as the Lakers once again flashed their post trade-deadline depth. Russell got the Lakers rolling with 10 points in the opening frame, Austin Reaves made his early looks and Anthony Davis dominated the defensive end and glass at an unholy rate. Every starter scored in the first quarter and they jumped out to a 11-point lead.
Anthony Davis comes from behind to snatch the ball away from Ja Morant. Incredible block. pic.twitter.com/qo0uxuYZnQ— Positive Residual (@presidual) April 29, 2023
After a rough Game 5 showing, James was much more effective in Game 6 as he went 9-13 from the field and had 16 points at the break.
HIM pic.twitter.com/uMySrgwgrM— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) April 29, 2023
With Darvin Ham continuing to search for lineups that could hold up while Davis sits, Wenyen Gabriel provided a spark off the bench buying Davis a few extra minutes of rest even though he made it clear he could play 48 minutes if necessary.
Upon Davis’ return, the floodgates burst open. Anchoring the defense all night, Davis stonewalled the Grizzlies’ drives to the rim and any hopes of extending the series. Behind Davis’ efforts the lead ballooned, and the Lakers had firm control heading into halftime.
The team didn’t let off the gas to start the second half. They converted on three straight threes featuring a pair from Russell en route to a 15-2 run. After an up-and-down series, Russell scored a game-high 31 points and helped spearhead a hot shooting night for the team.
DLo is having himself a game pic.twitter.com/0ISzBNxA00— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) April 29, 2023
With a 30-plus advantage on the scoreboard and the game in the refrigerator, the final quarter was essentially garbage time. James and Davis sat the last 12 minutes as the Lakers closed out the Grizzlies for good. A sentence that seemed incomprehensible at the start of the season.
The Lakers played to their highest potential tonight. They dominated the boards, were attentive in their rotations and the offense was a well-oiled machine.
Similar to a big loss, there is often not much to learn from in a big win. But one interesting development was how tight Darvin Ham kept his rotations tonight. Malik Beasley and Troy Brown Jr. stayed on the bench as only eight players played when the game was still in question. This is something to keep an eye on as the stakes continue to rise.
After a tumultuous 2-10 start, the Lakers are now only four wins away from a Western Conference appearance and 12 from raising an NBA-high 18th championship banner. This drastic turnaround continues to reach historical proportions.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.