“It’s not the first to one win or two, it’s the first to four,” LeBron said following the Lakers’ 103-93 loss at FedEx Forum on Wednesday. “I felt like we was prepared tonight, we just didn’t execute as well as we did in Game 1 for as close to 48 minutes.”
Yet, he doesn’t want his team to expect an automatic bounce-back in Game 3 at Crypto.com Arena, as “excited” as he is for the Lakers’ first full-capacity home playoff game in Los Angeles since he joined the franchise (and since 2013).
“Both teams feel like they can win on each other’s floors, so it gives us no comfort that we’re going home, and we shouldn’t feel comfortable going home with a 1-1 tie. Game 3 is the most important game of the series, and if we’re not comfortable going into that game, they could very easily come on our home court and take the series back.”
For as loudly and often as the Lakers have adopted “get greedy” as a motto over the past several weeks — the idea of not only grinding out critical games, but riding their momentum to multiple wins in a row — they spent the first half of Game 2 gifting Memphis the advantage.
The Lakers repeatedly emphasized ball security over the previous two days following a 16-turnover showing in Game 1, then coughed it up five times in the first 10 minutes. They trailed by 15 at halftime, at which point Memphis had 12 more points off turnovers.
In Game 1, the Lakers overcame sloppiness and a subpar LeBron outing (21 points, five total drives, one field goal in the fourth quarter) thanks to AD’s two-way dominance and clutch production from Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and D’Angelo Russell.
The script flipped in Game 2. Instead of capitalizing on the absence of Ja Morant, the Lakers sleepwalked through the first half and needed a personal 8-0 third-quarter surge by LeBron (28 points, 12-of-23 FG) to make things competitive. Davis (13 points, 4-of-14), Reaves (5-of-12), Russell (2-of-11), and the rest of the ensemble besides Rui (2o points) lagged.
Darvin Ham admitted postgame that his team was “lethargic” in the first quarter and was “irresponsible” with the ball. Reaves acknowledged that the Grizzlies played “harder” and more “desperate” than the Lakers.
And yet, the Lakers’ postgame attitude was generally upbeat: We came here to win one, and we did it.
That’s fine — it just isn’t so greedy.
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