Rookie Morant shines as Grizzlies shock Lakers
LOS ANGELES, USA – The Memphis Grizzlies, clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot in the NBA Western Conference, snapped a five-game skid with a 105-88 upset win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, February 29 (Sunday, March 1, Philippine time).
Rookie Ja Morant scored 27 points and tied his season high with 14 assists for the Grizzlies, who led by as many as 22 points in the 3rd quarter.
The victory in Memphis snapped the West-leading Lakers' seven-game winning streak. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Lakers 51-45 and harried Los Angeles into 16 turnovers leading to 22 Memphis points.
"They came out and played with a sense of desperation," Lakers star Anthony Davis said. "They wanted it more than us tonight, and it showed."
Dillon Brooks scored 24 points and Jonas Valanciunas added 22 points and 20 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
LeBron James scored 19 points and Davis added 15 with 9 rebounds for the Lakers, who still lead the West with a 45-13 record.
The Lakers sliced the deficit to 9 points with less than 7 minutes remaining, but the Grizzlies pushed the lead back to 18 and Lakers coach Frank Vogel emptied his bench for the waning minutes.
"We knew they were going to play with desperation," Vogel said. "They're currently the 8th seed in the playoffs and they lost 5 straight.
"Our guys have done a great job throughout most of the year playing with energy and matching the energy of the home team – we just fell short with that tonight."
The Grizzlies, who improved their record to 29-31, went into the night two games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.
Davis noted that the Lakers' road trip won't get any easier when they arrive at New Orleans on Sunday.
"Tomorrow we're going into another arena where a team is fighting for the same (8th) spot, so it's a precursor of what we're going to see tomorrow," he said.