NBA

LeBron says it was not about 'making a statement' as Lakers take series lead following Brooks flashpoint

By Sports Desk April 23, 2023

LeBron James said it was not about making a statement after helping the Los Angeles Lakers take a 2-1 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies following a flashpoint with Dillon Brooks.

A raucous sell-out crowd at Crypto.com Arena roared the Lakers onto a 111-101 victory in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series.

James had 25 points, while Anthony Davis had 31 and 17 rebounds in a game where the Lakers raced into a 35-9 first-quarter lead.

The Grizzlies saw Ja Morant put up 45 points after missing one game with a sore right hand and also had Brooks ejected 17 seconds into the third quarter for a flagrant foul when he struck James in the groin.

It did not take the officials long to toss Brooks from the game, but James said the focus was merely on getting the win on the board.

"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."

Brooks had been taunted by the Lakers crowd all game and head coach Darvin Ham said the vociferous home support was crucial in their efforts.

"I thought our crowd was phenomenal," Ham said. "Really felt them in the building. Thank God we gave them something to cheer about, the way we came out."

While Brooks did not address the media, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins merely said of the incident: "Officials made a call."

Morant scored 22 consecutive points for the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter, while he also had 13 assists and nine rebounds. Ultimately, though, Memphis' lowest first-quarter return in franchise history proved too big an obstacle to overcome.

"I think we won by double digits in the last three quarters, so obviously that first quarter pretty much hurt us," Morant said. 

"I feel pretty good. Obviously some stuff you've just got to play through and tolerate.

"In that fourth quarter, I was just trying to win the game. Got it going pretty good, making shots, and just couldn't get it over that hump."

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