Game 2 completely changed the Grizzlies-Lakers NBA playoff series. The Grizzlies' win was highlighted by Dillion Brooks sounding off about LeBron. As part of his post-game comments, Brooks said he "pokes bears" and didn't respect LeBron because he hadn't "dropped 40" on the team.
LeBron played it cool, seemingly brushing off Brooks' comments. However, that set up a pivotal game three for control of the series. What's more, Ja Morant would be back for the Grizzlies after missing the second game of the series. Everything was set for a no-holds-barred match in LA. That game was the first sell-out playoff game for the Lakers in a decade.
Morant Shines But Grizzlies Falter
To begin with, the Brooks-LeBron beef was short-lived. Brooks was ejected less than 30 seconds into the third quarter for a flagrant 2 on LeBron. Similar to James Harden's ejection earlier in the week, it was all due to Brooks hitting LeBron in the groin. Brooks played just 19 minutes, putting up 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal. That left the Grizzlies short-handed in the backcourt, a crucial issue as they tried to bounce back from a rough first half. However, they were able to rely on Morant. Returning from injury, Morant put up 45 points, shooting 50% from the field and 60% from three. He also added 13 assists in a great outing for the team leader. However, it just wasn't enough. Anthony Davis scored 31 and LeBron put 25 as the Lakers cruised to a 111-101 win. The scoreline made the game seem closer than it was.
The Grizzlies scored just nine points in the first quarter and trailed by 16 at the half. While the second half was much better for them, they were never able to truly threaten the Lakers. Rui Hachimura had 16 off the bench, outscoring the entirety of the Grizzlies' bench (12). However, after the game, LeBron dismissed any notion of beef between him and Brooks. "I didn't make a statement," James said. "I've been doing this too long. I'm not making any statements. We had the opportunity to come home and play well on our home floor, and we did that. No statement was made. We just wanted to play well, and we got a win. I don't need to make statements."