The Lakers beat the Grizzlies by 40 in the Game 6 clincher

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James promised to be better in Game 6 of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

He kept his word and his teammates kept the pressure on the Grizzlies from the opening end, crushing the No. 2 Grizzlies 125-85 for a 4-2 series win.

James needed 17 shots to make five in Game 5. On Friday, he made seven of his first eight, dominating the first half with a two-handed reverse dunk.

LA led by 17 at halftime and James scored 16 points, one more than he had in Game 5. He finished with 22 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds and made history by winning his 40th career playoff game, tying Derek Fisher for the all-time mark.

“He plays with hustle,” Lakers coach Darwin Hamm said of the 20-year veteran before the game. “He knows there are just a lot more [postseason runs] he will be able to participate. So he must have been at this point.”

The second half of Game 6 was nothing more than an extended celebration for the crowd at Arena, with the Lakers leading by as many as 40. The cheers lasted long as the franchise completed its first home win to close out the playoffs. streak since 2012 when they beat the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of the first round.

Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell got into the act of redemption with James. After going 4-for-11 in Wednesday’s loss at Memphis, he was 5-for-8 in the first quarter. Russell finished with 31 points on 12-for-17 shooting, setting a new career playoff record. He broke out of his playoff slump in a big way, having not shot 50% or better in any postseason game before.

And he did it with Kyrie Irving, James’ old Cleveland Cavaliers point guard, sitting courtside directly across from the Lakers bench.

Everything seemed to go the Lakers way on Friday. Their offense shot 53.8%. Their defense held Memphis to 30.2%.

Austin Reaves had his favorite game in Los Angeles with 11 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Jarred Vanderbilt helped chase down Grizzlies star Joe Morant (3-for-16), going 3-for-8 from the field for nine 3-pointers. Rui Hachimura was effective again off the bench, scoring six points on 3-for-5 shooting, including two dunks that sent the arena into a frenzy.

And Anthony Davis, whose injuries epitomized the team’s disappointment over the last several seasons, received a joyous “AD! AD!” chanted by the crowd after coming off the court to make a fumble save late in the third quarter with the Lakers up 30.

Davis, who had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks, raised both hands in the air and called for more from the fans.

Both teams had more than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter with LA leading 103-71. Wins like Friday’s rarely happen for the Lakers during the regular season, let alone the biggest games of the year.

The Lakers became the first seventh seed to pull off a first-round upset since the San Antonio Spurs in 2010, and just the sixth team to accomplish the feat. They await the winner of Game 7 between the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors on Sunday to determine their second-round opponent.

After a 2-10 start to the season, the Lakers have won 14 of their last 18 games, spanning the regular-season finale to a series win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and Grizzlies.

The Lakers became just the second team in the tournament since its introduction in 2020 to advance to the second round, joining the Miami Heat, who defeated the Milwaukee Bucks earlier in the week.

James and Davis improved to 5-0 in the playoff series, both healthy.

After Grizzlies Dillon Brooks called James “old” after the Lakers lost Game 2 in Memphis, LA won three of the next four games.

James confronted Brooks on the court before Game 3 in Los Angeles A source within earshot of the conversation told ESPN that James’ message to Brooks was essentially, “Are you ready for what’s in store for you tonight?”

Brook was not ready. The Grizzlies weren’t ready.

And the 38-year-old James’ postseason continues.

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