(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers Stung by 'Tough Loss' in Memphis
After the Lakers fell for the fourth time in five games, LeBron James called for optimism in the face of mounting frustration.
“This is a tough loss, obviously,” James said after Monday’s 110-105 defeat in Memphis. “I’m replaying plays throughout my mind right now. It’s tough, but you stay positive.”
The loss left the Lakers three games behind San Antonio for eighth place in the Western Conference. With 22 games remaining, James asserted that the playoff chase should fuel the Lakers (29-31) rather than distract them.
“At this point, if you are still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of,” James said. “And you should just come and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.’
“Seriously? If you’re distracted by playoff pushes, out of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year — just come and do your job, do our job at a high level. That’s not a distraction. That’s what you want. That’s what you want every game. You want to feel like you’re fighting for something.”
James and Brandon Ingram — both on recent hot streaks — brought their own fight to this game. LeBron struggled with his shot, going just 8-of-23 from the field, but captured a triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
Ingram, meanwhile, had the second-highest scoring output of his young career, attacking the teeth of the defense (especially in transition) to pile up 32 points. He also stepped out for three 3-pointers (on three attempts), finishing the night 12-of-18 from the field.
But the Lakers’ bench never found a rhythm. It shot just 3-of-14 and was outscored by Memphis’ reserves, 33-7.
Nonetheless, the Lakers had a chance to pull out the comeback late.
With one minute left, James hit a spinning, and-1 layup to pull the Lakers back within two points. But he missed the free throw, and Memphis (24-38) took advantage, outscoring its visitors via free throws the rest of the way, 5-2.
The Grizzlies were led by 30 points from Mike Conley and double-doubles from Jonas Valanciunas (20 points, 13 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14 points, 12 rebounds). … With his first dime of the night, LeBron moved into 10th place on the NBA’s all-time assists list. … Kyle Kuzma scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
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