Lakers use stifling defense to outlast Grizzles

L.A. goes 4-0, sweeps first road trip of season
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Defense remains the Los Angeles Lakers’ calling card, and they ramped up the intensity level when it mattered most -- at the end of the game to take a 94-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzles on Tuesday at the FedEx Center.

Once again, LeBron James took over when his team needed him, hitting an 18-foot turnaround fadeaway and coming up with a key block in the final minute to put the game away.

James finished 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, asserting himself on offense in the second half by scoring 21 points in the final two quarters.

The Lakers upped their record to 6-2 on the year, finished 4-0 on the road trip and head back to Los Angeles to host the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.

Top player: Anthony Davis notched a double-double, finishing with 26 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, shooting 4-of-10 from beyond the arc.

What I liked: The Lakers continue to use their defense to create offense, scoring 11 fast break points. The Lakers also held Memphis to 41 percent shooting percentage from the field. … L.A. outrebounded Memphis 52-38.

What I did not like: The Lakers committed a season-low 10 turnovers in the first game against Memphis. But that changed on Tuesday, as the Lakers were a bit ragged on offense, finishing with 17 turnovers. … Memphis outscored L.A.’s bench 36-22.The Lakers took just 11 free throws, finishing 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.

Injuries: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was held for a second game due to a mild left ankle sprain he suffered on a drive to the basket early in the second half against the San Antonio. Kyle Kuzma started in place of Caldwell-Pope for a second straight game. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said that guard Alex Caruso, who missed his fifth straight game due to the league’s COVID-19 rules, is working out in Los Angeles and may be available to play in L.A.’s game on Thursday against San Antonio at the Staples Center. … According to a spokesperson for the team, Lakers head trainer Nine Hsieh was not on the bench for Tuesday’s game per the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols. Assistant athletic trainer Jon Ishop took her place on the bench.

They said it: “At different points of the season we’ll have a different approach to that. But we’re really focused on our base coverages and getting them down pat without a whole lot of adjustments. That was our approach from Game 1 to Game 2 in San Antonio, and it will be similar to that tonight.” – Vogel on if he planned to make any adjustments to his team’s game plan facing Memphis for a second straight game on Tuesday.