June 21, 2024

The moments strung together, the Lakers suddenly looking like the basketball team they threatened to be when their names were written on paper this offseason.

LeBron James bounded agelessly to the basket. Anthony Davis swatted away shot after shot. D’Angelo Russell skipped and Austin Reaves cooked, the Lakers playing their best basketball of the season.

It helped, of course, that the ball decided it would finally start going into the basket Tuesday night.

For all the thought that goes into constructing an NBA team and the time devoted to scouting an opponent’s strengths and weakness, shooting is the biggest equalizer, the fuel that can take the .500 Lakers and make them look like one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

The Lakers, who had made more than a dozen three-pointers only once this season, canned 22 Tuesday in their second in-season tournament game, blowing out the short-handed Grizzlies 134-107 at Crypto.com Arena.

The 22 makes from deep ties a franchise record and the Lakers have now won three straight.

Memphis, playing without suspended Ja Morant, lost guard Marcus Smart to an ankle injury early, but the Lakers never showed any signs of mercy.

Seven players scored in double figures, seven Lakers hit threes and the Lakers grabbed their first blowout of the season, making 58% from the field and 62.9% from three.

The stakes were higher Tuesday as part of the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament, the Lakers playing on a gold-and-purple court. And the intensity was obvious from the start.

Early in the first quarter, Davis and Memphis reserve Santi Aldama were tangled up after a made basket, with Davis shoving Aldama to the ground. Davis, Aldama, Russell, Desmond Bane and Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins all ended up with technical fouls in the fallout.

And while the Lakers’ shooting started hot and stayed that way, seeing the ball go in seemed to caffeinate their defense, the team playing with the kind of energy and intensity they’ve struggled to find regularly early in the season.

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