For so much of this Lakers season, you’d need to squint to see the stretches that Lakers players and coaches would talk about, the minutes that kept them from spiraling into a deserved panic because of how bad they looked so frequently.
This, Wednesday night in Memphis, was not that.
For most of the game against the Grizzlies, the Lakers looked like the team they’ve sworn they are.
The ball zipped around the perimeter on offense just like their feet did on defense. They, not the Grizzlies, were more energized, more urgent in their actions. And the Lakers, of course, have LeBron James, one of the best players ever who the team is starting to weaponize as a center.
But it all fell apart so quickly, the bad decisions compounding as the Lakers couldn’t corral Ja Morant, the young guard leading the Grizzlies to a 104-99 win.
James tied a career high with eight three-point shots and Russell Westbrook had another triple-double, but the two combined for 10 of the Lakers’ 18 turnovers. The carelessness, like it has been for most of the season, was too much to overcome, with James throwing the ball away after a botched late-game possession, costing the team a chance to tie.
Morant brought the Grizzlies back from down double digits in the second half on his way to 41 points.
James scored 37, Westbrook had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists and Malik Monk had 15.
The Lakers play Portland Friday back in Los Angeles.
Dan Woike reported remotely from Los Angeles.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.