Despite a historic night from LeBron James, in which he finished with a triple-double, it appears the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles will continue.
The Lakers fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 110-105 on Monday night, marking their second straight loss back from the All-Star break.
The two teams bounced back and forth in the opening quarter, until an 11-4 run stretching from the end of the first quarter into the second gave the Grizzlies a slight lead. From there they never looked back, leading the rest of the way en route to the five-point win.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 26, 2019
“We didn’t make enough plays when we needed to,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “We started getting the stops we needed, we were covering for each other, doing all those types of things, then offensively we weren’t making the plays that we had to to win on the road.”
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 30 points and five assists, shooting 10-of-17 from the field. Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Avery Bradley added 15 points.
Late run comes up short as frustrations mount
The Lakers certainly had their chances on Monday night.
With one minute left in the game, James cut the Grizzlies’ lead to just two points after a reverse layup. He had a chance to bring it to one, but missed the free throw, and the Grizzlies grabbed the rebound.
They then jumped right into a full-court press, and appeared to earn an eight-second violation, which would have given them the ball right back.
That, despite holding the Grizzlies in the backcourt for what looked like nearly 10 seconds, was never called.
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 26, 2019
From there, the Grizzlies made five three throws in the final minute to hold the Lakers off.
“On the eight-second call, (the officials) said they thought they got the ball past half court,”James said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “That they thought, you know. Either you know for sure, or you don’t. It was definitely 15, when I looked at the shot clock, it was 15 and they hadn’t gotten the ball past half court. But, I mean, it happens.”
Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with 32 points, shooting 12-of-18 from the field. James finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Kyle Kuzma added 22 points, and Reggie Bullock finished with 14. As a team, the Lakers scored just seven points off the bench.
“We need more,” Walton said of the bench production. “I’ve started limiting some of the minutes of the bench guys, so they’re not getting the same amount of opportunity, but we still ... need some more from that group that’s been good for us.”
The Lakers are now 29-31 with just 21 games left on the schedule, and are sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference standings — three spots out of a playoff spot. James is at risk of missing his first postseason since 2005.
“At this point if you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, then this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this,’” James said after the game on Spectrum SportsNet. “Seriously, if you’re distracted by playoff pushes, of all the stuff that’s been talked about this year — just come and do your job, do your 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.”
Lakers’ LeBron James after loss to Grizzlies (via @SpectrumSN): “If you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play, this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.’” pic.twitter.com/s3gHiuhODx
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 26, 2019
James’ historic night
Despite the loss, though, James still had a historic performance. With his 11 assists, he moved up to 10th place on the NBA’s all-time list — making him the first player in league history to be top-10 in both points and assists. He’s also the only non-point guard in the top-10 assists list.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 26, 2019
He also trails Michael Jordan by just 130 points for fourth place on the all-time scoring list.
James, though, didn’t seem concerned with his new accolades after the game. He’s just focused on the playoff push.
“(We have to) just stay positive,” James said, via Spectrum SportsNet. “That starts with me. Just have to stay positive, keep knocking on the door. I feel like if we play like we did tonight, and we have to continue to make a consistent effort, that will get us over the hump as we make this push.”
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