The Lakers ran Los Angeles in the first weekend of November, collecting two wins before going on a four-game road trip. Double-doubles from forwards Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma and accurate perimeter shooting from center Brook Lopez were highlights of the games.
On Sunday, the Lakers defeated The Memphis Grizzlies 107-102. Lopez nabbed 21 points and Kuzma landed his third NBA double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Lakers strive to improve their defense, making five team steals and four team blocks.
“The winning part, it gives [the Lakers] confidence,” said head coach Luke Walton. “When we’re playing aggressive like that and we’re defending like that, communicating like that, we’re in the game, which is not easy at this level.”
Guard Tyreke Evans scored 26 points with All-Star center Marc Gasol making 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
The matchup welcomed home Memphis forward James Ennis III who played for Cal State Long Beach and head coach David Fizdale, who attended Fremont High School.
“We couldn’t guard anybody off the dribble and keep them in front of us,” Fizdale said. “But we just kept scrapping.”
The first quarter showcased many entertaining plays: Lopez sent a behind-the-back pass to Kuzma for a dunk, a double-teamed Lonzo Ball passed to an open Julius Randle, Randle aided Jordan Clarkson to score a floater. Memphis, however, succeeded in blocking three shots of the Lakers.
Lopez attributes his teammates in the win over Memphis.
“I definitely had my guys in there,” Lopez said. “We stunted him at the three-point line.”
Lopez scored two three-pointers in the second quarter. Forward Brandon Ingram reached 18 points by the half, making 14 points in less than four regulated minutes. However, Memphis made trouble for the Lakers. Coley blocked a shot by Ingram. Ennis III and guard Mario Chalmers made one steal each.
The Grizzlies hit a 13-point deficit with 7:22 left in the third. Los Angeles held Memphis to 16 points for those 12 minutes. Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma, and Ball sank three-pointers, creating a 15-4 run. Caldwell-Pope ultimately put forth a 15-point, seven-rebound effort.
Although they struggled for most of the match, Memphis kept fighting. Conley did not miss any of his five shot attempts to make 11 points in the final period. A 20-point deficit was reduced to five.
The Lakers starters were the main act in the finale, garnering 15 points. Lopez led with nine in the fourth quarter.
One could day the Lakers gained momentum from their Friday night win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Six Lakers players scored in the double digits to seal a 124-112 win over Brooklyn. The matchup marked the return of first-round 2015 NBA draft pick D’Angelo Russell to his former team.
Russell’s effort Friday night included 17 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
As a Laker, Russell contributed 15.6 points and 4.8 assists per game, he was part of the trade that gave Los Angeles Lopez and Kuzma.
Lopez, who played for with Nets for nine seasons, led both teams with 34 points. Kuzma scored 13 rebounds for the Lakers. Los Angeles native Allen Crabbe earned 25 points and forward DeMarra Carroll clinched eight rebounds.
Forward Larry Nance Jr. being out on injury did not stop the purple and gold. The Lakers put forth a sound effort in shooting, scoring over 30 points in three quarters. As a team, they shot at 51.1 percent in field goals.
Nance underwent surgery on his left hand after fracturing it during the Lakers’ 110-113 loss to the Portland Trailblazers and will miss 4-6 weeks. Kuzma replaced him on Friday, scoring 21 points and leading the team in rebounds.
“I just know I have to rebound better,” Kuzma said after his second career start on Sunday. “Prior to the past two double-doubles, I haven’t been rebounding well like I did in college.”