HomeSportsLakers struggle in Memphis before victory over Grizzlies

Lakers struggle in Memphis before victory over Grizzlies

On the one hand, the Lakers let their way through the game feel like someone waking up in a strange, dark room with no idea how to turn on the lights.

And on the other side you had the team the Lakers battled in the first round of the playoffs – all in their street clothes watching a collection of young players, others on 10-day contracts and G Leaguers shooting with every shot threatened to move the Lakers up from 10th in the Western Conference standings.

Of all the combinations and permutations that would determine the Lakers’ future, Friday night in Memphis was the outcome.

Read more: Lakers Newsletter: The playoff path is bleak, but the Lakers can catch a break

The Grizzlies had lost their last three games by a total of 47 points, their regular players were injured or retired for the season. Thirteen different players were inactive. No one who played for Memphis on Friday hit the field for the Grizzlies in the playoffs last year.

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Still, the Lakers were caught, with their hands on their waists and the Grizzlies’ repeated punches to the chin staggering the team with everything to play for.

The Lakers eventually found the switch, and LeBron James flipped it with six straight points to help the Lakers survive 123-120.

“Just win,” Anthony Davis said. “They have some talented young guys there who can score the basketball. We just have to win. It’s that time of year when you just have to win. Win and keep moving forward.”

Needing one last stop, the Lakers and Grizzlies rushed for a loose ball, with James intercepting a pass as he darted in the other direction at full speed. He punctuated play with a two-handed reverse slam. It happened with the Grizzlies’ best player, GG Jackson, the NBA’s youngest, on the court.

‘They would probably know from the gray tones in my beard. They would probably know I’m a lot older than they think,” James said. “But to be able to be on the floor and play at a high level and keep up with the young guys, and keep up with the youngest guy, that’s something I’m proud of. It is an honor to be able to play this game that I love so much at a high level.”

The Lakers now await other results in the West to learn their position heading into Sunday’s finale in New Orleans.

James scored 37, Davis returning from his eye injury had 36 points and 14 rebounds, while Rui Hachimura added 14 points.

Jackson scored 31 and made seven threes, with his chance for a three-point lead for No. 8 coming late.

“Overall, there were some things we definitely had to clean up,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said, “but we had to win this game and we won it.”

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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