MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Grizzlies haven't won much this season, but they were determined to win on Monday night.
On a day that put the NBA's spotlight on the Bluff City, the Grizzlies put together an all out team effort to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 123-114.
"We always want to play for something bigger than ourselves, and play for a higher purpose," said Grizzlies interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. "This game is the ultimate higher purpose."
"We know how much it means to the city and to us to be able to represent the city on a day like today," said Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Wearing special uniforms in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's assassination, and the Sanitation Workers Strike that brought Dr. King to Memphis in 1968, the Grizzlies jumped out to an early lead, and refused to give it up.
Eight Grizzlies players finished with double-digit points on the night.
Memphis guard Tyreke Evans, who usually leads the Grizzlies in scoring, took more of a facilitator role in the win against the Lakers.
Evans finished the game with 15 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds.
"They were chasing me off the screens," Evans said. "The big man was staying with me, so I was just finding guys. Getting assists and guys made shots."
Rookie forward Dillon Brooks, who finished 4-5 from three, led the way for Memphis with 19 points.
The Grizzlies got an inspiring defensive performance from second-year center Deyonta Davis, who scored 10 points and blocked five shots.
"Coach just told me to bring energy, and that's what I was trying to do," said Davis. "At the end of the day it's just me showing what I can do to help the team."
Winning on Dr. King's birthday was important for Memphis.
The team admits without Dr. King's work the NBA wouldn't be what it is.
"If it weren't for Dr. King, there's no telling how this world would be right now," said Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green. "It's still bad. Very bad, but it could be a lot worse."
"Diversity that runs through sporting events is the vision of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had, and its come to fruition," said Bickerstaff.
Memphis returns to FedExForum on Wednesday to face the New York Knicks.