Anthony Davis had 31 points and 17 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 25 points after Dillon Brooks was ejected for hitting him in the groin, and the Los Angeles Lakers survived Ja Morant’s 24-point fourth quarter to beat 111-101 Saturday night. the Memphis Grizzlies. for a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Morant scored 45 points in his return from a game-long absence with a sore right hand, even scoring 22 straight points during his impressive fourth quarter as Memphis tried to rally from an early 29-point deficit. Morant also had 13 assists and nine rebounds, but the second-seeded Grizzlies couldn’t rally after scoring a franchise-low nine points in the first quarter.
Rui Hachimura scored 16 points in another big effort off the bench for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who came out impressively in their first home playoff game with a sellout crowd in 10 years. Los Angeles tied an NBA record by taking a 26-point lead in the second quarter, and Memphis couldn’t get close to 13 points until the final two minutes.
Game 4 is Monday night in Los Angeles.
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Brooks was ejected 17 seconds into the second half after the Memphis shaker struck James in the groin while defending him near half court. As the leading scorer in NBA history rolled around the court in pain, officials ejected Brooks after a brief video review.
With the packed Lakers crowd booing his every move, Brooks had just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting before his ejection. He drew the ire of Lakers fans for his behavior during and after Game 2, when Brooks, 27, called the 38-year-old James «old» and belittled James’ skills.
This rivalry continued to fester into the third quarter, with Lakers forward Hachimura receiving a technical foul for an angry reaction to a foul.
Physical play aside, the Lakers were in control of Game 3 until the Grizzlies did something interesting late on, never getting within nine points.
Morant wore a black brace and hand pads and seemed to falter with it at times, but the Memphis leading scorer started slowly before rounding off to his usual indefensible form in the fourth quarter.
Desmond Bane scored 18 points for the Grizzlies.
GRIZZLIES’ DILLON BROOKS SENT OFF AFTER LOW HIT ON LEBRON JAMES
A frenzied crowd turned out for the Lakers’ first playoff game in 10 years with a sold-out stadium, and Brooks’ provocative demeanor provided a perfect outlet for the fans’ energy. Fans booed Brooks in pregame warmups and every time he touched the ball before he was ejected, but more importantly, the Lakers played to a similar advantage from the starting point.
Los Angeles rushed to a double-digit lead and went up 35-9 after one quarter, while the Grizzlies faltered offensively, going 3-for-25 with six turnovers. Brooks was particularly bad, missing 10 of his first 12 shots and having little impact on defense.
The Lakers led by 29 in the second quarter before Memphis finally shook off its road jitters and went on a 10-0 run to close out the first half, cutting its deficit to 16.
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Grizzlies: Brooks is the only player in franchise history to have been thrown out of multiple playoff games. He has been ejected six times in his six-year career, and has served two suspensions this season for accumulating technical fouls. … Memphis hadn’t played a postseason game in Los Angeles since 2013.
Lakers: D’Angelo Russell scored 17 points. He had a four-point play in the first quarter, the first such play by the Lakers in a postseason game since Kobe Bryant did it in 2009. … The last playoff game of the 17-time NBA champions With a sellout crowd it was the 2013 Lakers who missed the next six postseasons, with their 2020 championship run occurring in the Florida bubble. They hosted three first-round games in 2021 with a half-full arena due to COVID-19 restrictions.