In the King’s name

The Lakers survive everything. It is the feeling they give after a season in which they started 2-10, They swam in the well of West 13th place for many weeks and then they overcame all possible adversity to be the best team in their conference since the All Star break, going 18-9 to finish the season and win in the play inwithout any brilliance, to some Timberwolves who threatened to extend their efforts. With them the Lakers could just like in the first round game opener with the Grizzlies. And they did the same in the third and fourth rounds after giving up the second, something that didn’t seem so important once the field advantage was recovered. The initial duel in Los Angeles was resolved with solvency. The next one not so much: victory in extra time (117-111), but once again demonstrating an extraordinary ability to overcome. As if the urgent need to shorten the series, which we don’t know how long it will last, counted for more than the Grizzlies’ attempts to tie it.

In the first part, the script seemed almost identical to that of the previous clash despite the initial 0-6 of their rivals. They went as far as more than 15, constantly found spaces, good shots and a lot of success. Although this does not explain why Jared Vanderbilt scored the first 7 points for his team and 10 of the initial 12. He opened the can and then came the good game. But the Grizzlies adjusted when they saw themselves virtually out of the series and at halftime they tightened the game (54-52). In the third quarter they commanded and in the last they led the baton for a long time. It was to be expected a very little chain reaction of the playoffs, squeezing in a game when you have lost the previous one. They were entrusted to Desmond Bane, who went to 36 total points with 13 of 29 shooting, but 3 of 12 on triples, with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. To a very intermittent Ja Morant (19, but 8 of 24 at launch). And to Jaren Jackson, who put together a fabulous performance in the trenches (14+14, with 5 blocks).

They couldn’t even. Darvin Ham gambled and it went well for him: the Lakers started the fourth quarter with 1 of 9 on the shot and they were already dragging some huge problems from the previous period. The coach, sometimes questioned about his decisions regarding the rotation, he put in D’Angelo Russell and sat down Rui Hachimura, who did not have his best game in attack (7+6, 2 of 9 shooting), but he complies in defense more than the point guard, who was already looked for in an almost blatant way in the second round. Something the Grizzlies did again, with constant blocks to pair up with Morant and thus have more facilities on offense. But Ham didn’t care: he needed a plunger, a microwave. Someone to take the baton and score at once. And he did it: Russell made two consecutive three-pointers that turned a 90-97 into a 96-97. After a timeout from Taylor Jenkins, he released one more. And he was still able to score another three, but no such luck this time.. It didn’t matter: at 1:45 from the end, he went to the bench after committing his sixth foul. The job was done. Others would have to finish off.

Specifically, LeBron James. It wasn’t the brightest game for the active legend, but he fought off the rebound and appeared at the end, when the big stars do. A penetration by Hachimura did not find a basket, but a block by Jaren Jackson with the referees ignoring what seemed like a clear foul by Xavier Tillman. On the counterattack, Morant enabled Bane, who smashed at will. It was a 102-104 with less than 7 seconds to go. And there LeBron appeared, who in the penetration put the ball high up to avoid Jackson’s block. He hit the top of the board and entered. The Grizzlies tried with 0.8 to go, but Davis blocked Morant and LeBron, as anecdotally as poetically, put it out of time from his field. In extra time he converted 4 more goals. He finished with 22 points (8 of 18 on shots and bad again on the triple, with 1 of 7) and 20 rebounds, as well as 7 assists and 2 blocks.. The first 20-20 of his career (and the first for the Lakers since Shaquille O’Neal in 2004) and also the first time he has reached that many rejections. At 38 years old and in his 20th season in the NBA, he continues to outdo himself. Tremendous.

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In the Grizzlies, there was a lack of precision at the end. Now we’ll see if they pull the power of their track in Memphis or really give up the season. 95% of teams that have a 3-1 lead in a series end up passing, too big a slab for an excessively lanky team. His 9-of-42 3-point shooting was abysmal, and the Lakers’ decision to let Public Enemy No. 1 Dillon Brooks shoot from the outside is coming off perfectly. The controversial player leaves the Crypto with two games in which he has amassed 7 of 22 shooting from the field and 2 of 12 from 3-pointers, 1 of 7 tonight. Taylor Jenkins pulled very little from the bench (Santi Aldama played just over 7 minutes) and did not want to give Luke Kennard more playing time, the best triple shooter this season (close to 50%). A controversial decision when your players fail to weaponize the outside throw. Something that weighs too much in the current NBA.

That’s how things are. the Lakers go 3-1. They travel to Memphis to try to close the series on the fast track or do the same in Los Angeles in the sixth game. One way or another, they have three bullets. Anthony Davis fell in the first half and played with a shock absorber on his hip for the rest of the duel (be careful with that), which led to a bad game: 3 of 14 in shots for a 12+11+2+2+4. Active in defense, but not very explosive and at times surpassed by Tillman (very active, with 12+8+6). Dennis Schröder (12) is chosen to play the final minutes along with Hachimura, Austin Reaves (great again: 23+4+6) and, of course, LeBron and Davis. Vanderbilt’s less than 20 minutes were spectacular (15+6+1, with 3 blocks). Now, on the way to Memphis to a victory in the Conference semifinals, where they would play the Kings or the Warriors (who are 2-2). Yes, you have read correctly: conference semifinals. Who was going to say this in October. Well, surely, not even the most optimistic beings on this planet. The Lakers revolution is played in the name of the King. That he claims the crown from him. Awesome.

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