After the Lakers ran away late in Game 1, Memphis found itself needing a win without Ja Morant to even the series before they head on the road to Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, they did just that, jumping out to an early lead and never giving it back in an impressive showing, led by their frontcourt of Xavier Tillman (22 points, 13 rebounds) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (18 points, nine rebounds, three blocks).
It was a night where Memphis’ defense shined, holding the Lakers to 41.9 percent shooting, doing a particularly strong job on Anthony Davis (13 points on 4-of-14 shooting) inside. LeBron James had 28 points and 12 rebounds to do his part to keep the Lakers in the game, but he needed 23 shots to get there and was not able to fully put the team on his back to carry them to a win on a down night for Davis. As has been the case all series, Dillon Brooks (12 points, 5-of-14 shooting) took on the assignment of defending James, and the two got into it in the third quarter, with James appearing to call Brooks a “motherf*cking bum” as the two teams went into a timeout.
After the game, Brooks was asked about the jawing and had plenty to say about James, first noting “he’s old” and proudly declaring he “pokes bears” and doesn’t “respect someone until they give me 40.”
Classic Dillon Brooks on his confrontation with LeBron James: “I don’t care. He’s old. … I poke bears. I don’t respect someone until he gives me 40.”
And Brooks had plenty more to say. pic.twitter.com/uWLONrubPZ
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 20, 2023
This is now the second time Brooks has prodded James, saying prior to the Playoffs that he hoped L.A. would win the first Play-In game because he wanted to face LeBron and send him home in the first round. Doubling down here is bold, but unsurprising by Brooks. It’ll be fascinating to see if LeBron takes Game 3 as an opportunity to try and eclipse that 40-point number required by Brooks to earn his respect.