LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers hadn't been on the pitch for three minutes after the all-star break when Anthony Davis limped away with an injured leg.
With their big superstar in the locker room, the Lakers played a threatening quarter and wondered if their playoff push had just met with massive resistance.
Instead, Davis put his legs back under him and showed a monster performance that reminded everyone why the Lakers are on the top of the West.
LeBron James scored 32 points, Davis recovered from this early fear, scoring 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Los Angeles returned from the break on Friday night with a 117: 105 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Davis injured his right calf on an opponent's knee shortly after the opening tip. He was slowed down by several blows that turned out to be minor throughout the season – and after a few minutes of treatment, he returned to cheer in the second quarter.
"The leg felt good enough for me to try," Davis said with a shrug. "I just wanted to be on the floor to help the boys."
After half-time, he found his impressive game and put on 24 points, 11 boards and five blocks in the second half. Davis also led the Lakers' internal defense efforts against the Grizzlies, whose known ability to drive to the edge only resulted in 14 blocked Los Angeles shots.
Davis had 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks in the fourth quarter alone, as Los Angeles improved to 42-12 with his fourth consecutive win since February 6.
"Another Anthony defensive player of the year," said coach Frank Vogel. "He is the most versatile defender in the league. Especially against a team like this where you have concerns that a security guard like Ja Morant is attacking a basket."
Avery Bradley added 14 points for the Western Conference's leading Lakers, who finished strong after losing most of their 25-point lead in an excellent first half.
"Give the Lakers a lot of appreciation," said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins. “They came out and somehow made us punk in the first half. We weren't ready to play in the first half. Proud of the boys to fight back, start our activities and win the third quarter. … Overall, just one of those games we weren't ready to play and we have to learn from it. "
Josh Jackson had a season high of 20 points for the Grizzlies, who lost two games in a row in California after going all-star break with eight out of ten wins.
"Many defenders looked at me differently," said Morant, who scored 17 points. "It's exactly what they do. I feel like everyone knows that these guys are great defenders, but I'm still trying to attack the game the same way. I missed layups tonight. Missed you a lot open chin-up. Made some shots and forced some. I could have been better. "
The grizzlies wiped out most of LA's leadership with a strong third quarter, but the Lakers stuck to a number of big games, including a stunning rebound dunk by Alex Caruso after a 6:16 missed free throw by Davis.
The Lakers improved 3-0 this season against the Grizzlies. They meet again on February 29 in Memphis.