LeBron James made sure the Lakers had the right urgency for a playoff closing game. Raucous fans of his constantly urged them to end an infuriating decade without a postseason celebration at the Lakers’ home court.
When so much passion coincided with a spectacular defensive performance from Anthony Davis, the memphis grizzlies he had no chance.
Davis had 16 points and 14 rebounds while blocking five shots and dominating the paint, D’Angelo Russell scored a playoff run high 31 points and Los Angeles completed its first-round upset over the Grizzlies with a 125-85 victory in Game 6 on Friday night.
James scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the Seventh-seeded Lakerswho emphatically clinched a playoff series in their own arena for the first time since 2012.
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«It was definitely a Game 7 mentality for us,» James said. «We understood that we had a chance to play in front of our fans, and we wanted to try to finish it off tonight. We came out with discipline. From the start of the game, we were locked into our game plan the whole time.» the road until the last seconds».
The Lakers have won all three of their home games in the series, and the final win was a terrifying display of their capabilities when James and Davis are healthy along with their entire supporting cast.
Davis’ commanding defensive presence largely blocked Memphis’ offense in Game 6, while Russell’s five 3-pointers highlighted a slick offensive effort from a late-blooming team with championship aspirations.
«We didn’t want to go back to Memphis, to say the least,» said Austin Reaves, who had 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds. «We wanted to finish it tonight, at home, so we were very focused.»
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The Lakers took a 20-point lead in the first half and went up by 36 in the third quarter before pulling out the win against superfan Jack Nicholson and a sold out crowd. James and Davis even sat out the entire fourth quarter, preserving their legs for the second round.
Los Angeles opens its next series on the road Tuesday against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between Sacramento and defending champion Golden State.
«This is just getting started,» Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. «We passed Tier 1. Now we have to start shifting our focus to whoever comes out of that game on Sunday. LeBron shared some words of wisdom that he shared after the game. It’s about us, as much as it’s about our opponent. We have to be the best versions of ourselves.»
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Ja Morant scored 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting for the Grizzlies, who have won 107 games and two Southwest Division titles in the past two seasons but only one playoff series.
Morant’s injured right hand seemed to hamper his shot, and he seemed unwilling to drive the paint with his usual bravado as Davis loomed in the middle. Morant’s teammates couldn’t top him: Desmond Bane, who guaranteed a Game 7, had 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting, while Jaren Jackson Jr. had 14 on 3-of-12 shooting.
«In my opinion, we didn’t play our best basketball in these six games,» Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. «We got two wins in this series, but we were a ways from where we needed to play. Discipline, execution, defensively, the urgency, and then just our production on offense … (we) have to find ways to get better. This is a feeling that «We have to remember. It has to motivate us. It has to be understood that this is part of our evolution as a team.»
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Dillon Brooks, the Memphis firebrand who dismissed James as «old» after Game 2 and then was ejected from Game 3 for hitting james in the groin, he finished a dismal series performance with 10 points in Game 6 as Lakers fans booed his every move.
Brooks left the Grizzlies locker room before reporters were allowed inside.
«People are going to talk,» said Davis, who blocked 26 shots in the series. «We’ve had some trash talk on the court in the series, but all the talk in the media, we just went out there and let our game do the talking.»
The Grizzlies had the second-worst road record among the 16 NBA playoff teams in the regular season, losing all five of their road games against the Lakers this season.