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Lakers News: The Three Things The Lakers Did To Win Against the Grizzlies

Despite getting killed on the rebounds, the Lakers did a few things well.

It's official, the Lakers are officially off the schneid. Sunday night they downed the Memphis Grizzlies 121-118. LA went 0-5 during the preseason and lost the first two of the season, and things were looking bleak. With the Grizzlies coming into town, everyone knew Ja Morant was going to be a problem, and he was, dropping 40 points against the Lakers. Luckily, the Lakers did a few things well enough to overcome getting killed on the boards being outscored in the paint.

Three-Point Shooting

Yes, that's right. The Lakers shot well from beyond the arc. The Lakers hit 16-30 for a 53% clip. That is not going to hold up every game, but it certainly helped the Lakers escape a third loss. Carmelo Anthony was 6-8. Anthony was sizzling in this game, turning back the clock and dropping 28 points on 10-15 from the floor. LeBron James also hit 4-9 from outside, and he's been a great outside shooter so far this season. Only Westbrook struggled from outside, shooting 1-4. If guys like Malik Monk (2-3 from outside) and Kent Bazemore (2-2) can live up to their "3 and D" monikers, the Lakers outside shooting will be a benefit instead of a detriment. 

The Second Unit 

+/- is not my favorite statistic because it is often used to cherry-pick performances without context, but I'm going to use it because here because it helps give the bench the credit it deserves. At first, glance seeing Anthony have a team-high 28 points off the bench would spell out why the bench was the key, but that is reductive. Every single Lakers starter was in the minus on this stat (which again is not fair to the starters who mostly played well) but the bench guys all had + stats, except for Avery Bradley who only played two minutes. Monk, Austin Reaves, and Anthony all had great contributions to the Lakers off the bench. Reaves had 4 points and 3 assists in 18 minutes, but he always made the right pass and played good perimeter defense. Monk had 12 points and 4 assists in 18 minutes and was dazzling running the floor. Monk's second effort on broken plays won't show up in the box either, but his energy is frenetic. 

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Defense

The defense has been wildly inconsistent, but in large pockets, the Lakers defense has been stifling. They had 12 blocks to the Grizzlies 4, and they often had the Grizzlies in broken plays, settling for bad shots. LA started the first half playing good defense on the Grizzlies young superstar, Ja Morant. In the second half, Morant really got going, though. If the Lakers can make their defensive energy more consistent, they will win more ball games. 

The Concerns

The Lakers got out-rebounded 49-36, and their boxing out on the defensive end at times was embarrassing, as they got out-rebounded on offensive boards 18-9. The Lakers got outscored on points in the paint as well, and the 68% free-throw percentage isn't pretty. Overall, a great team improvement for the Lakers though, who were able to beat a very good, young, team in the Grizzlies.