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HomeSportsBasketballAnthony Davis vows tired Lakers will rebound after Game 5 loss

Anthony Davis vows tired Lakers will rebound after Game 5 loss

LeBron James jogged backward, lips pursed after another jumper rattled in and then bounced out.

His expression went blank.

James and the Lakers were getting avalanched. A run to undo a 17-point first-half deficit got them all the way within a point in the third quarter before the Memphis Grizzlies smothered them in a matter of possessions.

Memphis beat the Lakers 116-99 on its home floor Wednesday night in Game 5, extending the first-round NBA playoff series to a sixth game in Los Angeles on Friday night. Fans waved towels and chanted “Whoop that trick.” Fans and arena staff loudly made plans for Sunday, when the Grizzlies would host Game 7 if the Lakers can’t end things.

Desmond Bane, the guy the Lakers couldn’t stop in Game 4, stayed hot. Ja Morant, the guy the Lakers couldn’t stop in Game 3, attacked and told them they were “too small.”

And James, the player who saved the Lakers at the end of regulation and in overtime Monday, couldn’t make a positive imprint in his first chance to close out the Grizzlies.

“Tonight,” he said, “I was s—.”

He couldn’t stop it. The Lakers couldn’t end it.

James left after making only five of 17 shots and one of nine from three-point range. He turned the ball over five times in 37 minutes and vowed he’d be better in Game 6.

Anthony Davis led the way with 31 points and 19 rebounds, a strong response after a quiet Game 4 but it wasn’t nearly enough.

James had acknowledged after Monday’s heroics that Game 5 would be the toughest in the series, the first crack at closing out the Grizzlies coming on Memphis’ home floor. Bane hit his first shot, a mid-range jumper, to start the first quarter and fittingly ended it with a three, giving him 14 points in the quarter.

Bane, who had been relatively quiet for most of the first three games, ran his defender, Austin Reaves, through bruising screen after bruising screen, Memphis’ physicality getting its best perimeter scorer going.

“For us to relax would be asinine,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said before the game. “We have to come ready to play and ready to pour everything we have into this moment.”

The Lakers didn’t fold despite being down by 14 at the end of the first quarter and 17 deep into the second. Reaves hit a three, James got an easy basket and Davis had a three-point play to start the comeback.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant brings the ball up court during the first half of Game 5 in a first-round NBA playoff series against the Lakers on Wednesday in Memphis.

(Brandon Dill / Associated Press)

D’Angelo Russell mirrored his performance from late in Game 4 early in the second half, scoring eight straight points out of halftime to make it a one-point game, but the Lakers never could grab the lead.

Open jumpers either missed badly or rimmed out, but the Lakers stayed close and again had the chance to take the lead with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Davis went to the bench for a quick breather, and after Reaves missed a floater, the Grizzlies scored on their next three possessions to begin the defining stretch of the game.

The Lakers scored only two more points over a nearly six-minute stretch in which Memphis push its lead from one to 25.

The Lakers, faced with shutting down their best players or trying for the miracle comeback, chose the latter. They got within 12 with four minutes to go, but by then, James was on the bench and the rest of the Lakers were gassed.

The top four players off the Lakers bench — Dennis Schroder, Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. and Malik Beasley — struggled. Hachimura finished with the best plus-minus rating: a minus-18.

The Lakers made only 10 of 39 from three-point range.

Bane had 33 points and Morant scored 31, each grabbing 10 rebounds.

After the loss, Ham said he’d use all options Friday to give the Lakers the best chance to end the series on their court.

“I’m willing to play 48 [minutes],” Davis said. “This is what you play an entire season for.”

With the series heading to another crucial moment, Davis said he has confidence in the single biggest adjustment a team could have in its pocket.

“LeBron will play better,” Davis said. “After Game 2 when I played like crap, I had my head down and he was telling me to keep my head up. And I kind of just relayed that same message to him tonight. ‘You have the most points scored ever, you’re the best basketball player to ever touch the court.’

“So, it’s fine. He’ll be fine. He’ll adjust. He’ll get better.

“Our team will get better and Friday is another opportunity to close the series.”

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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