After nearly a month with a flawless home record, the Lakers finally faltered in their own house.
The Lakers’ defense collapsed in the fourth quarter, as they yielded their lead and their seven-game home winning streak with a 107-99 loss to Memphis.
“Honestly, we didn’t really deserve to win tonight’s game anyways,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “and then they caught fire.”
Clearly sick of their recent struggles, Memphis — which had lost five straight — erupted in the final period, scoring 35 points (11 more than the Lakers), while hitting a sickening 8-of-10 from 3-point distance.
“We made too many mistakes,” LeBron James said. “No excuses. Blown coverages. We had too many blown coverages down the stretch.”
James finished the night with 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and he spent much of the game focusing on areas outside of scoring.
In fact, he only attempted two shots in the first half. Instead, he was hitting the glass and forming a connection with Ivica Zubac, finding the big man for four assists.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 24, 2018
With JaVale McGee (illness) and Tyson Chandler (back spasms) both out, Zubac shouldered the bulk of L.A.’s center responsibilities.
For the second straight game, Zubac made the most of his spot start, putting up 19 points — the second-most of his career — and four blocks.
Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram also found a rhythm, scoring 20 points by attacking off drives, cuts and fast-breaks.
The James-Zubac-Ingram trio gave the Lakers (19-14) the upper hand entering the fourth quarter, and tied the game with only four minutes left.
But Memphis (17-16) surged from there. The Grizzlies embarked on a 13-3 run over the next 2 1/2 minutes, sparked by some big-time 3-pointers from Mike Conley, who scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth.
The Lakers had several blown coverages that cost them in the closing quarter, as Memphis took full advantage with its hot shooting.
“Defensive breakdowns were crippling to us down the stretch,” James said.
Conley wasn’t the only one who took advantage of L.A.’s defensive lapses. Fourth-overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr.’s physical game was on full display with 27 points and nine rebounds, while Marc Gasol flirted with a triple-double by collecting 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
And it cost the Lakers dearly, as the purple and gold lost at STAPLES Center for the first time since Nov. 25 — two days shy of a perfect monthlong home stretch.
Kyle Kuzma had 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. … Lonzo Ball struggled with his shot, hitting 2-of-10 from the field and missing all seven 3-point attempts. … The Lakers had a 25-4 advantage in fast-break scoring. … Memphis shot 14-of-26 on 3-pointers. … Tinashe sang the national anthem.
Source: Los Angeles Lakers