LeBron James made sure the Lakers had the appropriate urgency for a closeout playoff game. Their raucous fans constantly urged them to end an infuriating decade without a postseason celebration on the Lakers’ home court.
When that much passion coincided with a spectacular defensive performance by Anthony Davis, the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t stand a chance.
Davis had 16 points and 14 rebounds while blocking five shots and dominating the paint, D’Angelo Russell scored a career playoff-high 31 points and Los Angeles completed its first-round upset of the Grizzlies with a 125-85 victory in Game 6 on Friday night.
James scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who emphatically clinched a playoff series in their own arena for the first time since 2012.
“It was definitely a Game 7 mentality for us,” James said. “We understood that we had an opportunity to play in front of our fans, and we wanted to try to end it tonight. We came out with a discipline. From the start of the game, we were just locked in on our game plan all the way until the final seconds.”
The Lakers took a 20-point lead in the first half and went up by 36 in the third quarter before coasting to victory in front of superfan Jack Nicholson and a sellout crowd. James and Davis even got to sit out the entire fourth quarter, preserving their legs for the second round.
Los Angeles opens its next series on the road Tuesday against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between Sacramento and defending champion Golden State.
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