LeBron James said the Lakers brought a “Game 7 mentality” to the court Friday night as they eliminated the Grizzlies with a 40-point win, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. It was only Game 6, so L.A. had two chances to close out the series, but the players were determined not to return to Memphis. The Lakers took control right from the start and held a 17-point lead at halftime.
“We understood that we had an opportunity to play in front of our fans, and we wanted to try to end it tonight,” James said.
James had promised to play better following a subpar Game 5, and he kept his word, hitting seven of his first eight shots on the way to 22 points, along with six assists and five rebounds. The victory gave James another career milestone, tying him with former Laker Derek Fisher for the most playoff series wins with 40.
“He’s playing with a sense of urgency,” coach Darvin Ham said of his 38-year-old star. “He knows there’s only so many more of these (postseason runs) he’s going to be able to participate in. So he’s definitely been in the moment.”
There’s more on the Lakers:
- L.A. seems almost unbeatable when Anthony Davis is at the top of his game, states Jim Alexander of The Orange County Register. Along with his 16 points and 14 rebounds on Friday, Davis blocked five shots and affected numerous others. He showed throughout the series that he can dominate the game on defense even when his shot isn’t falling. “No matter what I’m doing, I want to be able to leave a mark on the game defensively and that can kind of fuel my offensive game and the team’s offensive game, and also fuel the defensive end for us as a collective,” Davis said. “So you know, I just (think) next play mentality and just keep going and keep playing and the rest will take care of itself.”
- The Lakers can expect strong competition for Austin Reaves when he becomes a free agent this summer, McMenamin adds in another ESPN story. An unidentified Western Conference executive said Reaves would be a good fit on “literally every team in the league” because of his age, skills and salary. The Lakers hold his Early Bird rights and are limited to an $11.4MM offer in the first year of a new contract, but Reaves expressed a desire to stay in L.A. “I would love to be here my whole career,” he said. “Just the way that the fans treat me, the love they have for me, as an undrafted player, it’s kind of like they raised me type of vibe. … It feels like it’s meant to be. It feels like this all happened for a reason and this is where I should be.”
- Kyrie Irving was among the fans at courtside for Friday’s game, McMenamin tweets. The Lakers reportedly had interest in acquiring the impending free agent last summer and again before he was traded to the Mavericks in February. Irving left in the third quarter because of the lopsided score, but not before visiting with James’ close friend and business associate Maverick Carter (Twitter link).