After the game, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton called it a frustrating loss.
“Those are the lumps we’re talking about,” Walton said. “It’s home games, games that we need to win.”
L.A. fell to 19-14 after the close loss to the Grizzlies on Dec. 23. The Lakers showed some of their depth with five players scoring in double figures and 27 team assists.
They got another big night from Zubac in his second start of the season, but Los Angeles had no answer for Memphis power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. The 2018 No. 4 pick finished the game with 27 points and 9 rebounds including a three that sealed the game.
Los Angeles trailed by five with 38.5 seconds left before Jackson Jr. drilled a three pointer that would give the Lakers an 8 point loss. Overall, the Grizzlies were 8-for-10 from three in the fourth and scored 35 total points.
Jackson said the team wanted to come out with fire because the team had been losing lately.
“You get up for certain games,” Jackson said. “When you’re playing against [LeBron James] in his crib you want to try and go off and go hard because at any moment they can go on a crazy run.”
Memphis led by as much as ten with under two minutes left before Josh Hart converted a three pointer to bring them within seven. A Memphis shot clock violation on the next possession followed by a layup from LeBron James made the game interesting at 104-99 but that was as close as it would get.
James finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. Twenty points came in the second half as James started slow with only two points off of two field goal attempts in the first. However, he did have five assists and 10 rebounds in the first half including some assists that led to impactful Zubac slams.
After the game, James said the team is built off depth and energy when asked about the team’s weaknesses without Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee healthy. James said Zubac played a hell of a game versus the Grizzlies as he filled in the starting lineup for a recovering McGee for the second consecutive contest. Zubac scored 19 points in 33 minutes. The Coation seven-footer went 8-for-12 from the field and also blocked 4 shots.
Brandon Ingram was the next leading scorer with 20 points in 37 minutes. Ingram went 8-for-15 from the field. Ingram said he is staying consistent with what he does since returning to the lineup from an ankle injury.
“…Just staying in attack mode at all times, swinging the basketball and getting the best shot for our team, tracking advantages of matches when I have them.” Ingram said after the loss.
Further, Kyle Kuzma, Kentaviois Caldwell-Pope and Hart all finished with double digit points. Both Kuzma and Hart finished with 11 points each. K.C.P. had ten including a fourth quarter breakaway slam and a buzzer beating three at the end of the third.
Points in the paint were the story of the first half. Memphis closed the second with 24 points in the paint to the Lakers 28.
Still, Los Angeles trailed four at Halftime despite leading fast break points 14 to 2.
Otherwise, Zubac led the Lakers with 16 at halftime. He wasn’t without opposition as Grizzlies starting big men Marc Gasol had twelve points and Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 16 at the break.
Los Angeles entered the contest off a 112-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans Dec. 21. Previously, defeated the Grizzlies 111-88 in Memphis on Dec. 8 which was the only other matchup between the two Western Conference teams.
Entering Sunday’s contest, the Lakers were in a tie with the Clippers for the fifth spot in the Western Conference. They’ll now fall into a three-way tie with the Blazers and Clippers.
Next the Lakers will face the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 25 at 5 P.M. PST for a road game on Christmas Day.