What a difference two weeks makes.
Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 27 points and the Memphis Grizzlies grinded out a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, 107-99, on Sunday night at Staples Center.
On Dec. 8, the Lakers traveled to Memphis on the second night of back-to-back, and won by 23 points in a wire-to-wire blowout victory. Two weeks later, it was a completely different story on their home court as the Grizzlies pulled away late in sluggish and gritty game that was indicative of the Grizz style.
"I think we were flying around a little bit more and were more disruptive on the defensive end," said Lakers guard Josh Hart who had 11 points in the contest. "We didn't really have that too much today."
Marc Gasol had 17 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. Mike Conley contributed 17 points, Gary Temple had 14, and JaMychal Green and Wayne Seldon each had 12.
"They beat us at home pretty bad so you have a chip on your shoulder because of that," said Jackson Jr. "Plus, we have been losing a lot of games lately, so we wanted to come out with a fire under us. When you're playing against LeBron James in his crib, you want to try and go off and go as hard as you can because at any moment they can go on a crazy run."
LeBron James led the Lakers with a team-high 22 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. James is the only player in the NBA this season to average 27, seven and seven.
"Defensively we were pretty good through three quarters," said James of the game as a whole. "But we had some turnovers in the fourth quarter and had too many defensive miscues."
In his second game back from an ankle injury, Brandon Ingram had 20, and Ivica Zubac had a season-high 19 points. Kyle Kuzma finished with just 11, and failed to score over 20 points for just the second time this month.
"I was playing off LeBron and my teammates," said Zubac of his season-high in points. "I was setting the screens and LeBron was getting deep into the paint, and my guy had to help, so he would just serve the ball to me, and I just had to finish it."
Each team had six players score in double-figures.
The back-and-forth battle featured 25 different lead changes, and no team led by more than six points until just over two minutes in the fourth quarter when Memphis extended the lead on a three-point barrage.
With the Grizzlies leading 93-91 with 3:42 remaining, Mike Conley made back-to-back three-pointers, and Temple and Jackson Jr. each hit one as well to put the game out of reach for the Lake Show.
"We made a couple costly defensive mistakes down the stretch," said Hart. "They got hot and made some big shots down the stretch."
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Grizzlies.
"It felt good to kind of get that monkey off our back," said Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. "The urgency that our guys played with--they wanted to win this game. They put forth the effort and did all the little things necessary to get it done."
After playing with flu-like symptoms in Charlotte last Saturday, McGee was hospitalized with pneumonia and missed the next three games before returning to the court for pregame warmups on Sunday. He did not play in the game.
Michael Beasley's Mother
Lakers forward Michael Beasley posted a picture of his mother on Instagram, after it was announced that she had lost her battle with cancer. Beasley has missed 13 games this season, tending to his mother in Washington D.C.
"I just wanted to send our love, our thoughts and our prayers to Michael Beasley and his family," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "They’re going through a tough time. But we’re thinking of you, we miss you and we love you."
Notes and Next
The Lakers were without two centers as big men JaVale McGee (pneumonia) and Tyson Chandler (back spasms) both were unable to play in the game.
The Lakers will head into their highly anticipated Christmas Day matchup with the world champion Golden State Warriors, a team that is on a two-game winning streak.
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