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Dillon Brooks says LeBron James old as Grizzlies beat Lakers

It was about as good of a chance as the Lakers could’ve hoped for.

On their sixth night in Memphis, the Lakers faced a Grizzlies team without its best player and leading scorer, Ja Morant, another blow to a team that already was playing without two of its top big men.

Instead of grabbing control of their first-round playoff series, the Lakers let it start to wiggle free.

They lost Game 2, 103-93 on Wednesday night, the Grizzlies’ swagger refilled even with Morant watching from the sideline.

Afterward, the Memphis locker room produced trash talk; the Lakers, meanwhile, tried to be optimistic heading home after squandering a chance to go ahead 2-0.

“We understand what a series is all about. It’s not the first to one win or two. It’s the first to four,” LeBron James said.

Darvin Ham, who won his first playoff game as coach Sunday, shared the same message, saying that the Lakers anticipated a “grueling” series.

The Grizzlies, though, were emboldened after dominating without Morant, guard Dillon Brooks and James sharing words on the court and Brooks offering strong ones after.

“I don’t care. He’s old,” Brooks said of James to reporters in the Memphis locker room. “I was waiting for that. I was expecting him to do that Game 4, Game 5. But he wanted to say something when I got my fourth foul. He should’ve been saying that earlier on.

“But, I poke bears. I don’t respect no one until they come and give me 40.”

After winning Game 1, the Lakers got two days to rest, two days for James and Anthony Davis to recover. The Grizzlies were bound to come back with tons of energy, but if the Lakers could only match it, they’d have virtually every other advantage.

Trouble was, the Lakers came out like a team still satisfied by a Game 1 win.

“The first quarter was really the problem,” guard Austin Reaves said. “They came out and punched us in the mouth first and we didn’t respond well. Kind of felt like we were a little lackadaisical out there. Like you said, they were desperate. They played harder than us.”

The Lakers made only seven shots in the first quarter. D’Angelo Russell turned the ball over three times, and Davis got only one shot out of six to fall despite attempting all of them in the paint.

“Can’t have a night like I had tonight and expect us to win,” Davis said after going four for 14.

Another game like this, in which the Lakers don’t execute, get pushed around and outhustled and outplayed, could hand control of the series to their opponent.

Morant, who aggravated a right hand injury late in Game 1, was a game-time decision but watched from the bench.

It was a familiar position for the Grizzlies. Last season they won 20 of 25 games without Morant in the regular season and one of three in the playoffs. This season in 21 games without Morant, Memphis won 11, thanks in part to Tyus Jones, one of the best backup point guards in the NBA.

The Grizzlies, despite a miserable shooting start, dictated the action, pushing the Lakers off their spots and making most of the impact plays.

Davis, desperate for an easy bucket, had two shots blocked by 6-foot-5 reserve guard John Konchar. And with the Grizzlies swarming Davis at every touch, he was mostly a nonfactor, scoring only 13 points but blocking five shots.

And even though James scored 28 and Rui Hachimura came off the bench for 20, the Lakers couldn’t get closer than six in the second half after falling behind by as many as 20 in the third.

“We’re going to keep fighting no matter what,” Davis said.

It looked like the Lakers had been in a fight, a cut just below Davis’ right brow dripping blood into his eye during his news conference.

The Lakers scored only 19 points in the first and 22 in the fourth as Memphis’ defense went up another level. The Lakers were just seven for 26 from three-point range, including one for eight by James.

The Lakers had chances late but missed four straight three-pointers while the Grizzlies put the game away on the offensive glass — one final reminder of how the Lakers were outhustled.

Instead of leaving Memphis with a mountain of a lead, the Lakers leave with a tie.

“It gives us no comfort that we’re going home. We shouldn’t feel comfortable going home with a 1-1 tie,” James said. “Game 3 is the most important game of the series and if we’re not uncomfortable going into that game, they can very easily come into our hometown and our home court and take the series back.”

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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