It was a weird, wild finish, but it was a win … the Lakers’ first of the season, no less.
It came courtesy of a 121-118 edging of the visiting Grizzlies, and not until Ja Morant missed the third of three free throws with 2.5 seconds to go.
Yes, the Grizzlies’ rising young star of a point guard was fouled (by Kent Bazemore) while shooting a 3-pointer and time running out. At the time, the Lakers led by three (119-116).
Morant was brilliant all night, finishing with 40 points. But he needed 41.
The fact he didn’t get it enabled the Lakers to escape by the hair of their chinny chin chin.
Carmelo Anthony sealed the deal with a pair of free throws, providing the final margin. It was a fitting ending, as Anthony had a throwback performance, scoring a team-high 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
“Sometimes you have to go win games like this to find some momentum,” Anthony told Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet.
In the process, he moved into ninth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. As ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweeted, Anthony was “hotter than Andy Capp’s.”
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook committed a few fourth-quarter gaffes, but still scored 13 points and passed for a season-high 13 assists. Malik Monk also gave a decent showing with an underrated 12 points off the bench.
Morant truly was fantastic, going 13-of-21 from the field and racking up 10 assists. Without him, this likely would have been a 30-point difference.
“I really don’t care about what I’ve done tonight,” Morant said.I missed a free throw to tie it. That’s pretty much the only thing on my mind.”
But 30 points or three, the Lakers (1-2) will take it. And yes, needed it.
For the first time all season, they now hit the road — with a visit to the Spurs on Tuesday. They visit the Thunder on Wednesday before returning home to face LeBron’s old team, the Cavaliers, on Friday.
"Sometimes you have to go win games like this to find some momentum." @carmeloanthony & @LakersReporter discuss tonight's hard-fought win and Melo passing Moses Malone on the all-time scoring list. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/PQVaAq3YfZ
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) October 25, 2021