All night long the Lakers were able to go straight to Lou Williams for a bucket, as the 2014 Sixth Man of the Year dropped 40 points on Memphis — the second-most in his career and most by any Laker this season.
However, they were stifled while trying to tie the game in the final minute, as the Grizzlies survived for a 103-100 win.
Blistering hot all night, Williams attempted a game-tying 3-pointer over two defenders with 20 seconds remaining, but it bounced off the rim. However, the Lakers got a mulligan when Luol Deng stole Memphis’ errant inbounds pass and Julius Randle was fouled on his ensuing 3-point attempt.
But Randle — a 70.8 percent free throw shooter — wasn’t able to come through at the line, missing all three foul shots.
The Lakers (10-12) wound up with the offensive rebound and got it into the corner to Jordan Clarkson, but he, too, was off the mark on his tying triple. Still, head coach Luke Walton wasn't tough on his young duo after the game.
"Those guys have been great for us all year," he said. "Some shots didn’t go for them tonight but that’s the way it goes in this league.”
Both teams entered the game with depleted squads, as the Grizzlies were missing six players — including Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Chandler Parsons — while the Lakers took the floor without D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young and Larry Nance Jr. due to injuries.
The situation worsened for the Lakers in the first quarter, as Jose Calderon was lost for the game due to a strained right hamstring.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, Williams was there to carry the team.
The 30-year-old absolutely erupted in the second quarter, dropping 21 points in that frame alone. Memphis had led 35-34 before the 6-foot-1 Williams capped off an 8-0 run by rising up and throwing down a two-handed slam.
Williams had 28 points at halftime — more than his total for any full game this year — but the Grizzlies (13-8) had an unexpected answer in Troy Daniels, who scored 23 of his career-high 31 points in the first half alone.
Daniels finished the night with six 3-pointers off the bench in 34 minutes to help Memphis overcome Williams’ one-man show, in which he shot 11-of-20 with four triples of his own and only two turnovers.
Williams also hit a perfect 14-of-14 at the foul line, as he took advantage of Memphis’ young players who filled because of injuries.
“They had rookies out there that weren’t familiar with keeping their hands out of the cookie jar,” Walton said. "He’s great at recognizing that when a defender is reaching, he gets his shot. He took advantage of that and I think that helped him get in a rhythm.”
Williams was aided by his fellow vets, as Loul Deng scored a season-high 18 points, while Timofey Mozgov added 13. But Daniels received some strong support as well, with Marc Gasol providing 19 points and eight assists to complement JaMychal Green’s 16-point, 13-rebound double-double.
The Grizzlies also spread the wealth by doubling L.A.’s 16 assists, which helped them rally from an 11-point deficit in a back-and-forth contest featuring 17 lead changes.
Despite keeping it close for the entire contest, the Lakers were unable to pull through in their fourth road game in five nights.
“(There was) probably a little fatigue for some of our younger guys," Williams said. "It’s still early in the season, you got to get your sea legs going and grind out these games. I thought we did an excellent job being in the predicament that we are in, just to continue to fight.”
Nonetheless, first-year Grizzlies coach David Fizdale left with some glowing reviews for the way Walton had his team play.
“Actually, I am going to say something tonight before we get started," Fizdale said at his postgame press conference, "and that is Luke Walton is a hell of a coach. It’s as simple as that. He’s dealing with the same things that we’re dealing with and somehow he’s getting that team not only to compete, but play well. I mean, what a heck of a coach he is. I am scared to see him in 10 years and how good he’s going to be if he’s already doing this with the team."
The Lakers had a 23-11 advantage in made free throws. … Memphis rookie Wade Baldwin IV had seven points and nine assists, while Marcelo Huertas stepped in for Calderon with seven assists. … An audience of 17,017 was in the stands at FedExForum.