NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies’ Ja Morant, Desmond Bain combine for 64 points to force Game 6 against Lakers

Memphis Grizzlies guards Ja Morant and Desmond Bain combined for 64 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists in a 116-99 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday to force a Game 6 in their first-round series. The second-seeded Grizzles trail the seventh-seeded Lakers 3-2 in the best-of-seven game.

Game 6 is scheduled for Friday night in Los Angeles at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Morenta and Bain’s efforts marred double-doubles from Los Angeles’ Anthony Davis (31 points, 19 rebounds), LeBron James (15 points, 10 rebounds) and D’Angelo Russell (11 points, 10 assists). Austin Reaves added 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss for the Lakers. At the end of the night, James looked tired, Reaves limped on a weighted knee and Davis was slow to get up from a fall on his tailbone.

“It’s our home floor, the home crowd, and we feed off their energy,” Morant, who finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and just 2 turnovers in 38 minutes, told TNT’s Allie LaForce. “Every time we play in this building, they bring it to us every time and give us the energy we need to win.”

Energy is made up of mass and velocity; no one embodied both better than Bain and Morant in Game 5. In their backcourt, the Grizzlies picked up the pace from the jump against a Lakers team that prefers grinding in the half court, where Davis and company own the best defense in the West. playoffs. Memphis built a 14-point first quarter lead to 56-39 five minutes into the second quarter.

Reaves’ 3-pointer and his layup to James sparked an 8-0 run over the next two minutes to cut the Lakers’ deficit to nine, a lead that remained until halftime when Memphis took a 61-52 lead. .

Morant and Bain scored or assisted on 50 of Memphis’ 62 points at the break, with a combined 39 points on 15-of-27 shooting and five assists through two quarters. Los Angeles’ backfield had no answer.

Morant showed no ill effects from his bruised shooting hand. He attacked the rim with his usual ferocity, including a layup on Davis that symbolized Memphis’ must-win effort.

Davis had his third career double-double at halftime (18 points, 10 rebounds), but James trailed the young Grizzlies, going into the break with almost as many baskets (five) as points (six-for-2). 9 FY). Reaves, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura were the ones who helped Davis keep the Lakers afloat.

Russell went on an 8-0 run to open the second half to cut Memphis’ lead to 62-61, and the Lakers stayed within striking distance until the four-minute mark of the third quarter when Reaves missed a 12-foot jumper. have given Los Angeles their first lead since the opening minute of the game.

After that, the bottom fell out for the Lakers. A tip from Santi Aldama sparked a 26-2 response that put the Grizzlies up 101-76 with 10 minutes remaining. Even when Memphis didn’t concede a field goal for five minutes in the middle of the last quarter, the Lakers never got within single digits.

Memphis quarterback Desmond Bain and Los Angeles
Memphis guard Desmond Bain and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James react after being fouled in the first half of Game 5 of their NBA playoff series at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee on April 26, 2023. (Peter Thomas/USA TODAY Sports)

Late in the third quarter, after Morant had scored 25 points, LaForce reported, “He spent the whole last timeout showing the athletic trainer that his right knee was bothering him when she put it on, and it made him jump. She looked him in the eye and said, “Can you go now?” And he said, “Yes.”

The knee didn’t seem to slow Morant either. He stayed until late in the fourth quarter, when he scored or assisted on eight straight Grizzlies points to snuff out the Lakers’ last hope of a comeback. After the game, Morant admitted some pain from a “knot” in his knee, but he expects to be fine in Game 6.

Grizzlies cornerback Luke Kennard left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. He called it a “sting” after the game, telling reporters, “I’m going to do my best to try to get it right and play on Friday.”

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