Lakers advance to 2nd round after Game 6 win vs. Grizzlies

Anthony Davis had 16 points and 14 rebounds while blocking five shots in a spectacular defensive performance, D’Angelo Russell scored a career playoff-high 31 points and the Los Angeles Lakers completed their first-round upset of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 125-85 victory in Game 6 on Friday night.

LeBron James scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who emphatically clinched a playoff series in their own arena for the first time since 2012.

The Lakers won all three of their home games in the series, and the final victory was a scary demonstration of their capabilities when James and Davis are both healthy. Davis’ imposing defensive presence largely shut down Memphis’ offense in Game 6, while Russell’s five 3-pointers highlighted an impressive offensive effort from a late-blooming team with championship aspirations.

"We didn’t want to go back to Memphis, to say the least," said Austin Reaves, who had 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds. "We wanted to end it tonight, home court, so we were super locked-in."

The Lakers took a 20-point lead in the first half and went up by 36 in the third quarter before coasting to victory in front of superfan Jack Nicholson and a roaring crowd. James and Davis even got to sit out the entire fourth quarter, preserving their legs for the second round.

The Lakers had to win a play-in game just to reach a playoff series, although this star-studded team is no ordinary seventh seed. Los Angeles opens its next series on the road Tuesday against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between Sacramento and defending champion Golden State.

"This thing is just getting started," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. "We passed Level 1. Now we’ve got to start shifting our focus to whoever comes out of that game on Sunday. LeBron had some great words of wisdom he shared after the game. It’s about us, just as much as it’s about our opponent. We have to be the best versions of ourselves."

Ja Morant scored 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting for the Grizzlies, who won 107 games and two Southwest Division titles in the past two seasons, but just one playoff series.

Morant’s injured right hand appeared to hamper his shot, and he seemed unwilling to drive the paint with his usual fearlessness while Davis loomed in the middle. Morant’s teammates couldn’t pick him up: Desmond Bane, who guaranteed a Game 7, had 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting, while Jaren Jackson Jr. had 14 on 3-of-12 shooting.

Dillon Brooks, the Memphis agitator who dismissed James as "old" after Game 2 and then got ejected from Game 3 for striking James in the groin, finished a dismal series performance with 10 points in Game 6 while Lakers fans booed his every move.

"We didn’t play our best basketball at all, in my opinion, in these six games," Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. "We got two wins in this series, but we were far from where we needed to play. Discipline, execution, defensively, the urgency, and then just our production on offense. … (we’ve) just got to find ways to get better. This is a feeling we’ve got to remember. It’s got to motivate us. It’s got to be understood that this is part of our evolution as a team."

The Lakers hadn’t won a playoff series outside the Florida bubble in 11 years, enduring a rough decade-plus for a 17-time champion franchise with a fan base used to excellence. James and Davis have won a title together, but they had done little to remember in front of their home fans before the past two months, when their supporting cast markedly improved at the trade deadline with several additions headlined by Russell.

The Grizzlies had the second-worst road record among the NBA’s 16 playoff teams in the regular season, and they lost all five of their road games against the Lakers this season. They staved off elimination by winning in Memphis on Wednesday, but Lakers fans sensed the enormity of the moment and turned out in force, highlighted by the return of the 86-year-old Nicholson to his courtside seats after a nearly two-year absence.

Their team delivered, jumping to a 20-point lead in the first half and stretching it to 36 in the third quarter with a defense-based performance led by Davis, who blocked 26 shots in the six-game series. Shortly before he checked out for good, Davis triumphantly raised both arms to incite his cheering fans chanting, "A-D! A-D!"

The Grizzlies played without 3-point threat Luke Kennard due to a sore shoulder, further hurting the depth on a roster already missing injured regulars Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke.


Nicholson watched his beloved team for the first time since October 2021, returning to his usual seats alongside his son. The Lakers’ most famous fan has been a fixture at courtside for the last half-century, and the Oscar-winning actor got a huge ovation from his fellow supporters whenever his face appeared on the scoreboard.


  • Grizzlies: Kennard went through a pregame workout before getting ruled out. He got a stinger in Game 5. ... Xavier Tillman scored two points in 18 minutes.
  • Lakers: James won his 40th career playoff series, tying Derek Fisher for the most in NBA history. ... Nicholson’s return was the highlight of a celebrity-studded night at courtside, where the fans included Larry David, Dr. Dre, Adele and Kyrie Irving, who got a big hug from James before the game. Irving is a free agent this summer, and he has been linked to a reunion with James repeatedly in recent years.


The road to the playoffs hadn't been easy for the Purple and Gold. The team started the regular season at a 2-10 record and shipped out former NBA MVP Russell Westbook in a trade with the Utah Jazz.

Prior to the deadline, all eyes were on LeBron James earlier in the 2023 calendar year as he broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record. As if there weren't enough distractions, both James and 8-time All-Star Anthony Davis missed time during parts of the regular season to recover from their respective injuries.

Yet, in spite of all the distractions and trips to the trainer's room, the Lakers somehow found themselves a spot in the Western Conference side of the playoff bracket after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime in the Play-In tournament.