The Los Angeles Lakers moved to 17-19 on the season after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, 104-99.
Los Angeles had the advantage for most of the game. The Grizzlies struggled to hit a 3-pointer in the first half and ended the 24-minute period shooting a feeble 14% from deep. Despite the low percentage, the Lakers led by just six points at the half.
The Lakers then proceeded strongly in the third quarter, building a 14-point lead with LeBron James and Malik Monk hitting 3s in the run. However, as has been the case this season, Los Angeles blew the lead.
Ja Morant led the comeback, knocking down his first six 3-point attempts of the game.
The Lakers had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but no one attempted a shot and James ended up throwing it away. L.A. mustered just 16 points in the final 12 minutes.
Here is how the Lakers graded individually from an embarrassing collapse:
Russell Westbrook: F
Every player makes mistakes. Russell Westbrook makes egregiously loud ones. The Lakers had a key moment late in the game to close the gap, but Westbrook missed an open layup in transition. That wasn’t the only one, though. He stopped the momentum L.A. had near the end of the first half with a turnover, a missed shot from a bad angle and lackadaisical defense all in one span.
He mustered 16 points on 16 shots while his matchup, Morant, exploded for 41 points, eclipsing 40 for the second straight time he faced the Lakers.
Westbrook finished the night with a 16-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple-double, but a good portion of this loss falls on his shoulders.
Avery Bradley: D
Avery Bradley had a solid first quarter. All seven of his points came in that span: a 3-pointer, a floater and a floater curling to the rim off a wide pindown. But he didn’t impact the game beyond that. He finished 1-of-5 from deep and had five fouls. He couldn’t slow Morant late in the game when he guarded the young star.
Malik Monk: B
Malik Monk continues to do more than he gets paid to. The 23-year-old guard who is on a minimum contract had an efficient 15-point night, shooting 6-of-9 overall and 2-of-5 from deep. He added three rebounds, one assist and one steal with a plus-12 rating.
Monk was the only Laker capable of consistently helping James when the offense needed buckets. This was the second straight solid game for Monk in the starting lineup, so he deserves to stick there.
LeBron James: A-plus
There’s not much more LeBron can do. He finished with 37 points, his sixth straight 30-point outing, on 13-of-25 shooting overall and 8-of-14 from deep. He was 6-of-7 at one point before he started forcing near the end of the game. James added 13 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks, which is still unbelievable for someone turning 37. The Lakers wasted another incredible performance from The King.
Carmelo Anthony: F
Carmelo Anthony had a night to forget off the bench. After dropping 24 points the day before, Anthony couldn’t buy a shot. He shot 2-of-11 overall and 1-of-8 from deep in 30 minutes. He was a liability on both ends of the floor, especially when playing at center. David Fizdale stuck with him, but it didn’t pay off.
Stanley Johnson: C-plus
Stanley Johnson isn’t the 3-point threat Carmelo is, but he should’ve gotten more of Anthony’s minutes. Johnson played 23 minutes and put up seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, three rebounds, two blocks and a steal. He also hit 1-of-3 from deep, which is a clip the Lakers will take given his career rate of 29.7%. He should take DeAndre Jordan’s roster spot since the veteran center got another DNP-CD.
Talen Horton-Tucker: D-minus
Talen Horton-Tucker’s struggles persisted against the Grizzlies. He played 19 minutes off the bench, even during crunch time in the fourth, which wasn’t a smart decision given the spacing fit. He finished the night with a 2-of-7 clip and missed both 3-point attempts. He had five rebounds, two assists and a block, including a nice possession-saving moment in the third quarter to help extend the lead, but he’s still far from the player the Lakers hope he can become.