Postgame Report: Morant scores season-high 41 points in Grizzlies’ win over Lakers
Key Stat of the Night
- The Grizzlies outscored the Lakers 26-16 in the fourth quarter… Memphis held Los Angeles to 35.0% shooting and 20% from 3-point range after the Lakers shot 48.5% from the field and 41.9% from long range in the first three quarters.
Key Run of the Night
- Memphis scored 13 straight points bridging the third and fourth quarters to tie the score at 83 with 10:45 remaining in the game… The 13-0 run was the start of a 29-9 burst that gave the Grizzlies their first lead since the score was 2-0.
The Memphis Grizzlies continued rolling in December with a 104-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, their second win over the Lakers this month. Memphis improved to 11-4 in December and won for the 13th time in their last 17 games.
Ja Morant posted a season-high 41 points and 10 rebounds, knocking down a career-high six of his seven 3-point attempts. It marked Morant’s second 40-point double-double in as many games against the Lakers this season after he tallied 40 points and 10 assists on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles.
Desmond Bane scored 20 points while Jaren Jackson Jr. added 15 points and a season-high tying three steals.
LeBron James recorded 37 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, tying a career high with eight 3s. Russell Westbrook notched his eighth triple-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Memphis scored 13 straight points to bridge the third and fourth quarters to start what became a 29-9 burst that gave the Grizzlies their first lead since the score was 2-0. Memphis scored the final eight points of the third period, punctuated by a running 3-pointer from Morant. The Grizzlies outscored the Lakers 26-16 in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers had threatened to pull away, as James scored 14 points in the third period to help Los Angeles stretch its lead to 80-66.
Los Angeles surrendered its league-leading ninth double-digit lead of the season while Memphis recorded its eighth double-digit comeback win. The Lakers suffered their sixth loss in their last seven games.
The Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs on New Year’s Eve at FedExForum at 7 p.m. CT. Fans can watch at Bally Sports Southeast and listen at ESPN 92.9 FM.
On the game:Obviously a huge win. We say that we’re resilient a lot, but I told the guys at halftime that I was so encouraged by our first half play. I thought, defensively, we were doing some really good things. LeBron (James), what a night by him. He was rolling everywhere on the floor. He was taking some tough shots, and they were taking some tough shots in that first half. We couldn’t buy a shot in the first half, but yet we were down by single digits and I told the guys, ‘I’m so encouraged. I love our defensive activity. I love how we’re playing. We’re going to take advantage of this halftime and figure out how to clean up a few things, but find that spark in the second half.’ I credit these guys. I really don’t have to tell them that. They know to go out there and just keep staying the course. Obviously, we couldn’t get a shot to fall early in the third quarter too, and they go up with a big lead. We had to burn two timeouts, but our guys just stayed positive. They knew we could just had to find a run. We just kept scrapping and came up with some loose balls in the second half, big ones in the fourth quarter. Ja (Morant), what an unbelievable night by him. The tone he was setting throughout the game. I thought he did some good things defensively in rotations and one-on-one defense. When he got going, it fueled everyone else, and we broke loose there in that third quarter. What a back and forth fourth quarter? Great execution down the stretch. Some situational stuff that you don’t get a lot of time to practice, and our guys on the fly had to figure out matchups, coverages, side out of bounds defense, underneath out of bounds defense. Heck of a game.
On Ja’s ability to deliver:It says so much about him. Obviously, he’s had moments like this early in his career, but this one especially. Going against LeBron, who’s having a heck of a night himself, just going toe to toe. Especially Ja’s confidence shooting the three, tackling downhill, getting to the free throw line, moving the ball in transition, getting the pace going for us. It says a lot. We’ve said it since day one, he’s built for moments like this. I thought he really impacted the game on both sides of the floor. Obviously, everyone is going to talk about his scoring tonight, but I thought moving the ball defensively, two blocked shots, two steals, ten rebounds – he just filled up the stat sheet. When it was time for him to go make a bucket, he stepped up with tons of confidence and drove some big shots for us. Huge impact. What a heck of a game! This is just one of many moments that we’re going to see out of him and this team.
On the process of resting Ja to start the fourth quarter:There’s no perfect reasoning behind doing that when a guy has had a big momentum at the end of that third quarter. It’s one of those crucial moments. Who we were bringing in to start the quarter, could we balance it out from a defensive and offensive arsenal out there? We give him a quick blow so he can go out there and play the last eight or nine minutes of the fourth quarter, and play with that same intensity and pace. It’s a gamble, of course, any time you take someone out, especially Ja who was on a run there at the end third. I credit him. He knows sometimes when he plays the entire third quarter that he’s going to get a quick blow and then he’s going to come out and hopefully, keep building up that momentum and help us get that victory.
On Desmond Bane’s injury:He just got knocked into his thigh – nothing serious. Just a little contusion there that can get you a little stiff, but obviously, he was playing with great energy and force throughout the game. He was just feeling it a little bit in the fourth quarter, got it checked out and he was great to go at the end of the game.
On closing the game out:In close games down the stretch, it feels like we have been there before. I feel like my job is to get stops and get the rebound. Dez (Desmond Bane) and 12 (Ja Morant) knew they had to help us out on the offensive end. We just all knew what we had to do the stretch. It was winning time – we had to get stops. I wanted to try and make that happen.
On if Ja Morant should be an All-Star:That’s not even a question – 100%. That’s not a question right there. All-Star 12, you already know.
On how they were able to pull out the win:(Killian Tillie) came up with some loose balls. Ja and (Desmond) were big down the stretch. Tyus was big down the stretch, +20 plus-minus. It was really special for everyone to contribute. Nobody was afraid of the moment. Like I said, we’re a team that’s been here before. We’ve been here in the playoffs. Every time we come into these situations down the stretch, we embrace it. We love it.
On guarding LeBron James down the stretch:It is a playground mentality. I grew up playing on the playground. When a guy is getting off on you like that, you want to get a stop. You want to do everything in your power to try and get a stop. He is obviously a great player. I tried to make it tough on him, make him uncomfortable, give him different look and hope he misses, honestly. It took me back to the park, with the older guy getting off on me and I’ve got to get a stop. It is what it is.
What did they think they needed to do different after a slow first half:What just had to make sure we were on the same page with coverages on the offensive end. We were all really hungry to get a win. We let each other know it was winning time – it was time to go. So, just getting on the same page – that is where we have shown tremendous growth. Once we operate on the same page on both ends, we’re a pretty good team.
On trying to match LeBron’s scoring:I was taking what the defense gave me, and it turned out good for us. That is normally how I attack everything. Just continuing to play my game, continuing to be aggressive and make the right reads from whatever the defense gives us. I felt like tonight was my night.
On if it makes it more special that his big game came against LeBron:Umm, yeah. I grew watching LeBron, like you said. He’s one of the greatest to ever touch a basketball. My focus is going out there to get a win. That is how I attacked this game and how I attack every game. It just so happened that it was one of those nights where him and I were going back-and-forth. It is just special to get the win. I’m thankful for my teammates. They got us some big stops, big rebounds, and also helped me. They put me in position to score. Most of the credit goes to them.
On when he knew he was going to have to carry the load offensively:I was just reading the game, going with the game flow. We started off a little slow. We missed some shots – a lot of shots that we normally make – layups, floaters and wide open 3’s. Going into half we were down, but we were excited. We felt like we were in a good position, because we weren’t playing out best basketball. We knew we just had to come out and continue to play, continue to take those shots with confidence. That is what we did, and the game completely turned around. As we got going, I got going, and we got a win.
On what the atmosphere was like in the arena:It was a good game. We appreciate the fans rooting for us. We had a lot of energy we could feed off during the game, in the big moments when we needed. It is even better to send all of those yellow, gold – whatever color you want to call their jerseys – home sad. You can take that back to L.A.
- The Grizzlies have won 13 of their last 17 games… Memphis improved to 11-4 in the month of December, tying the franchise record (originally set in 2016) for wins in the month of December.
- Memphis came from 14 points down (80-66) with 4:33 left in the third quarter to earn its eighth double-digit comeback win of the season… The Lakers surrendered their league-leading ninth double-digit lead of the season in the loss.
- The Grizzlies have won consecutive games over the Lakers for the first time since the 2018-19 season… Memphis earned multiple home wins over the Lakers (including a Dec. 9 victory) in the same season for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.
- Memphis, the league leader in steals per game (10.4), recorded 13 steals tonight, the 15th time in the last 16 games the Grizzlies posted double-digit steals.
- The Grizzlies held a 29-8 advantage in free throw attempts.
- The Lakers have dropped six of their last seven games.
- Ja Morant totaled a season-high 41 points (13-27 FG, 6-7 3P, 9-12 FT), 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
- This marks Morant’s third career 40-point performance in the regular season, which is a franchise record.
- Morant became the first player in franchise history to record multiple 40-point games in the same regular season.
- Morant posted the first game with 40+ points and 10+ rebounds in franchise history tonight after logging the first 40-point, 10-assist game in club history in his previous game against the Lakers on the road on Oct. 24.
- Desmond Bane registered 20 points, his 14th 20-point game of the season.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. had 15 points and a season-high tying three steals.
- LeBron James notched 37 points (13-25 FG, 8-14 3P), 13 rebounds and seven assists, tying his career high for 3-pointers made.
- Russell Westbrooklogged his eighth triple-double of the season with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.