The Memphis Grizzlies dominated the Los Angeles Lakers throughout their matchup on Wednesday, securing a 103-93 victory in Game 2 and evening the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Despite the absence of Ja Morant, Memphis was able to hold off a late surge from LeBron James and the Lakers thanks to a standout performance by Xavier Tillman, who tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting.
The two teams will now have a few days off before Game 3 in Los Angeles on Saturday. If Morant is healthy enough to play, the Grizzlies will have a chance to seize control of the series with a win on the road. However, if Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell continue to struggle from the field, and James is the only efficient player for the Lakers, it could be a difficult uphill battle for Los Angeles to take a 2-1 lead.
Here are the three main takeaways from Game 2:
- The Lakers struggled with shot selection and didn’t take enough 3-pointers. In Game 1, they shot 11-of-17 from deep and won the game from behind the arc. However, in Game 2, they only attempted 26 3-pointers, with James taking eight of them. Memphis’ defense forced the Lakers to drive into traffic and turn the ball over, and they need to shoot through the misses and be more disciplined defensively moving forward.
- Xavier Tillman was a standout player for the Grizzlies, finishing as their top scorer with 22 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been the best player for Memphis in this series, but the Lakers have largely avoided matching him up with Anthony Davis. As a result, Davis has been guarding Tillman, who was able to take advantage of the mismatch and contribute significantly to the win.
- The Lakers are currently a small team, with James serving as their backup center. This makes them vulnerable against big men who can take advantage of their size, as was the case with Tillman on Wednesday. The Lakers need to find a way to balance their help responsibilities with guarding their assigned players to avoid being exploited in the paint.
Photo: Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) goes sup for a dunk against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) during the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 19, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)