Ja Morant Outduels LeBron James as Grizzlies Beat Lakers 104-99

Doric SamDecember 30, 2021

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 29: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James #6 and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant #12 during the first half at FedExForum on December 29, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies earned their third straight win by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 104-99 at home on Wednesday. Ja Morant led the way with a season-high 41 points with a career-high six three-pointers as Memphis improved to 22-14.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

🤯 <a href="https://twitter.com/JaMorant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JaMorant</a> <a href="https://t.co/7C00CviBTV">pic.twitter.com/7C00CviBTV</a>

The Grizzlies have now won the past two meetings against the Lakers and lead the regular-season series 2-1. The two teams will face each other again next month in their final matchup of the year.

Los Angeles fell to 17-19 after its sixth loss in its last seven games. LeBron James had a team-high 37 points and tied a career-high with eight three-pointers.

Notable Stats

G Ja Morant, MEM: 41 points (6-of-7 3PT FG), 10 rebounds

G Desmond Bane, MEM: 20 points

F LeBron James, LAL: 37 points (8-of-14 3PT FG), 13 rebounds, 7 assists

G Russell Westbrook, LAL: 16 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists

Morant Carries Grizzlies to Comeback Win

Throughout most of the game, Memphis struggled on offense but still managed to keep the game close. The Grizzlies shot 2-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first half but hit 12-of-13 free throws to get within six at halftime.

Morant was the lone bright spot for Memphis through the first 24 minutes, scoring 16 points. Coming out of the break, Morant turned up his energy and spearheaded a furious comeback to erase a 14-point deficit.

Bally Sports: Grizzlies @GrizzOnBally

Deep triple. ✅<br><br>Griddy dance. ✅<a href="https://twitter.com/JaMorant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JaMorant</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAAllStar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAAllStar</a> <a href="https://t.co/rfWsfo5XB9">pic.twitter.com/rfWsfo5XB9</a>

Bally Sports: Grizzlies @GrizzOnBally

BIG 12 IS FEELIN IT 🔥<br><br>5 Triples for <a href="https://twitter.com/JaMorant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JaMorant</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAAllStar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAAllStar</a> <a href="https://t.co/rwrbwqh2GJ">pic.twitter.com/rwrbwqh2GJ</a>

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

TURN US UP 12. <br><br>38 POINTS. 6/6 from long range. <a href="https://twitter.com/JaMorant?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JaMorant</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAAllStar?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAAllStar</a> <a href="https://t.co/1E1NbgfqPY">pic.twitter.com/1E1NbgfqPY</a>

Morant scored 25 of his 41 points in the second half. He's the first Grizzlies player to have three career 40-point games. With Morant leading the charge, Memphis outscored Los Angeles 26-16 in the fourth quarter.

Morant has proven himself to be one of the brightest young stars in the NBA. If he keeps this up, the Grizzlies could fight for a top-three seed in the Western Conference this season.

Lakers Waste Another Strong Performance by James

Despite the Lakers' collective struggles this season, James clearly has not lost a step and is playing some of the most efficient basketball of his career.

The 19-year veteran opened the game with 15 points in the first half, including 11 on 4-of-4 shooting in the first quarter. With James leading the way, Los Angeles led by as many as 13 before Memphis cut the lead to six heading into the break.

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Make that 3/3. <a href="https://t.co/rbVV4er3Ku">https://t.co/rbVV4er3Ku</a>

Spectrum SportsNet @SpectrumSN

LeBron says NOT TODAY! 🚫 <a href="https://t.co/vunkI5cF5t">pic.twitter.com/vunkI5cF5t</a>

After hitting three of his four three-point attempts in the first half, James came out of the locker room feeling it from beyond the arc. He hit five more triples to end the game, going 8-of-14, tying his career-high for three-pointers made.


6-for-7 from deep.. <br><br>Get to <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a> to watch a locked-in LeBron! 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/lh4R5rTf32">pic.twitter.com/lh4R5rTf32</a>

It was James' sixth straight game with at least 30 points and at least 50-percent shooting from the field.

But the rest of the Lakers struggled to get much going. Russell Westbrook (16 points) and Malik Monk (15) were the only other players to score in double figures for Los Angeles.

The Lakers can't keep wasting these standout performances by James. Los Angeles is now 1-5 during his hot streak. It's been a disappointing season for a team that entered the year considered to be among the favorites to compete for an NBA title.

What's Next?

The Grizzlies will go for their fourth straight victory Friday against the San Antonio Spurs at FedEx Forum. The Lakers will return home to host the Portland Trail Blazers that same day.