The Lakers looked set to avoid overtime either way when they fell behind early against the Grizzlies on Friday, but turned the game into a blowout in the other direction with a strong second half.
But this game started a whole lot like the last three for the Lakers: a slow start followed by a handful of runs, but none that could get them over the hump. The Grizzlies went on a 20-2 run to start the first quarter, and they ended the period with a 15-point lead.
The Lakers didn’t take their first lead of the game until less than a minute remained in the third quarter, but they won every quarter expect the first. They also never lost the lead after they took it. The Lakers outscored the Grizzlies 41-23 in the third quarter and 28-23 in the fourth quarter.
Anthony Davis had a strong return to the court on Friday, tallying 35 points and 8 rebounds in 35 minutes. He was wearing a walking boot when he was on the bench, but when he has on the floor, he looked as spry as anyone. It’s not too late to catapult him past Nikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard for All-Star votes in the Western Conference, you know!
Kyle Kuzma was also extremely valuable for the Lakers off of the bench Friday, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Kuzma had more points and rebounds than any of the starters not named LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined. He looks like he’s having fun out there right now.
But the real winner of Friday night was not the Lakers; it was LeBron James, who played under 40 minutes for the first time since Feb. 4. James has insisted that his body has felt fine during this rough stretch, but it’s honestly tiring just watching him. The Lakers owed it to him to keep this game contained to four quarters. He made sure to do his part, too, contributing 28 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals.
With a win on Friday, the Lakers finished their five-game home stand with a 5-0 record and they extended their winning streak to seven games. They’ll now head back on the road for the first time in two weeks to take on the Denver Nuggets at the Ball Arena on Saturday, looking to turn their seven-game win streak into an eight game one.