LeBron James Drops 30 to Power Lakers Past Grizzlies as Ja Morant Shines Again

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 24, 2019

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 23: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 23, 2019 at FedExForum 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nikki Boertman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nikki Boertman/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers won their 14th game in 15 attempts as they beat the host Memphis Grizzlies 109-108 on Saturday at FedExForum.

The 14-2 Lakers, who own the NBA's best record, have won seven straight. The 5-10 Grizzlies have lost three consecutive games.

This win did not come easily for the Lakers, who fell behind by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and trailed 105-100 after a Brandon Clarke tip-in with 3:24 remaining.

However, Anthony Davis keyed a 9-0 Lakers run in response. The big man hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 105 and made a tip-in to end the run and extend L.A.'s lead to 109-105 with 54.3 seconds left.

A Dillon Brooks free throw and Ja Morant two-pointer cut the lead to 109-108, and the Grizzlies got the ball back with 1.3 seconds left following a missed three-pointer from LeBron James.

But the Grizz turned the ball over inbounding from their own end, effectively sealing the game.

James led all scorers with 30 points, and Davis dominated on the defensive end with five blocks and three steals.

For Memphis, Ja Morant continued his case to be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year with 26 points, six dimes and five steals. Jae Crowder and Jaren Jackson Jr. complemented Morant's efforts by combining for 41 points and 13 boards.


Notable Performances

Lakers G/F LeBron James: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Lakers F Anthony Davis: 22 points, 5 blocks, 3 steals

Lakers G Rajon Rondo: 14 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds

Grizzlies G Ja Morant: 26 points, 6 assists, 5 steals

Grizzlies F Jae Crowder: 21 points, 6 rebounds

Grizzlies F Jaren Jackson Jr.: 20 points, 7 rebounds


Ja Morant Shines in Memphis' Loss

The Lakers entered Saturday third in defensive rating, per NBA.com, but you wouldn't have known that based on Morant's performance Saturday.

The superstar rookie dominated, nearly helping the Grizz pull off a huge upset over the league's best team.

One can use a host of adjectives to describe Morant, but the best one might be "fearless," which is also the best way to describe this move:

FOX Sports Grizzlies @GrizzliesOnFSSE

FEARLESS, THY NAME IS JA MORANT 😤 @JaMorant | #GrindCity https://t.co/VPTX5aNNGT

Another one is "smooth," as he's making a habit of pulling off the NBA's prettiest layups and teardrops:

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

SHOW N GO WITH THE BUTTER ROLL @JaMorant | #GrzNxtGen 📺Watch on @GrizzliesOnFSSE 📺 https://t.co/AXEkbHFKWW

Of course, he's an excellent distributor as well, finding Clarke, a fellow rookie, here for two:

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

🎶we got Ja on it 🎶 @JaMorant | #GrzNxtGen 📺Watch on @GrizzliesOnFSSE 📺 https://t.co/Wo0Gk13JjC

A potential turnover off a possibly errant pass became a dish to Crowder for a three here:

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

we be steady lobbin' @JaMorant x @brandonclarke23 #GrzNxtGen https://t.co/vrJSTvSj7A

There's a lot to like about Morant, and Gary Parrish of CBS Sports pointed out one of his best attributes:

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

Point Ja 👀 @JaMorant x @CJC9BOSS 📺 Watch on @GrizzliesOnFSSE 📺 https://t.co/qUr9kUYbO2

But sometimes, there aren't words to describe Morant's game:

Gary Parrish @GaryParrishCBS

My favorite thing about Ja Morant, by far, is how he weighs 175 pounds but still constantly flexes on anybody and everybody.

The ex-Murray State star had nine points and three steals in the final 7:06. Memphis may not have won, but the franchise is in great hands with Morant, who looks like a perennial All-NBA team member.


What's Next?

Both teams will play on the road Monday.

The Lakers will visit the San Antonio Spurs at 8:30 p.m. ET in AT&T Center, and the Grizzlies will face the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.


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