Lakers’ offense sputters in Memphis, as playoff hopes continue to fade

first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersIt was a second straight loss to a lottery-bound team for the Lakers, who are increasingly headed in that direction themselves. After an encouraging home win in Houston on Thursday, the Lakers went winless on their two-game trip and now sit two games under .500.James had a triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, but it took a labored effort (8-for-23 shooting) to get there. Brandon Ingram had 32 points and Kyle Kuzma had 22, but further down the roster, little help arrived.There was a moment at the finish when the Lakers looked as if they could pull victory out of a hat. Down seven in the last two minutes, Kuzma hit a 3-pointer, which was followed by a missed jump shot by Mike Conley. James ran down the court and scored while drawing a foul, trimming the deficit to two points and drawing a wave of boos from the sellout Memphis crowd.But James missed the free-throw attempt, then Kuzma missed another 3-point shot, and the Lakers had to foul to preserve the clock.Reggie Bullock (14 points) gave the Lakers another quick gasp of hope, hitting a corner jumper with 12 seconds left, but Avery Bradley hit a pair of free throws that put the game out of reach. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error It was closer than the 13-point loss to New Orleans, and the Lakers said to a man they thought they played harder. But the team knows that the result, not their effort, is ultimately the grounds on which they will be judged.“Those are games you normally find a way to win, when guys are playing the right way and giving the right amount of effort,” Coach Luke Walton said. “So it’s gonna be a long flight home, but like we always say, no one’s feeling sorry for us, nor should they.”The Lakers strongly took issue with two calls at the end of the game: a missed shot by James that they felt should have resulted in a goaltend, and a Memphis possession they believed took more than eight seconds to cross halfcourt. Walton called the calls “a big moment,” and James said the explanations he received from the officials about the calls didn’t make sense.Still, it might have been something akin to progress that the Lakers felt more unity against a common enemy in the officiating crew than pointing fingers at each other. Players who were bewildered by a lack of urgency in the loss to the Pelicans thought the team had a stronger group effort in the follow-up.“I mean, it felt different,” Kuzma said. “New Orleans – [I] thought we was just hopeless out there. We didn’t really get the lead back at all, and tonight we fought. But at the end of the day, a loss is a loss and no matter what way you spin it, you still put an L in that column.”James faced strong resistance from the Grizzlies defense for much of the night, primarily from 6-foot-2 pitbull Bradley who stayed locked on his hip. Memphis also sandwiched him with double-teams as he made moves to the basket.Ingram helped pick up the slack, starting fast with 19 points before halftime while heating up with short jumpers in the paint. He also showed uncharacteristic range, going 3 for 3 on 3-point attempts and hitting two big ones in the fourth quarter.Mike Conley had 30 points to pace Memphis, while Jonas Valanciunas finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds.The Lakers’ bench never arrived. The reserves were held to seven points between them, while Memphis’ bench contributed 31. Rajon Rondo, who was 1 for 6 and had no assists, acknowledged that the bench had a letdown.Related Articlescenter_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed PreviousMemphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives ahead of Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) and forward Brandon Ingram in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, and Grizzlies center Joakim Noah, center, fall to the court as they struggle for control of the ball with Lakers center Tyson Chandler during the second half of Monday’s game in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Lakers forward Brandon Ingram shoots as Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas defends during the first half of Monday’s game in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) drives between Memphis Grizzlies guard Delon Wright (2) and center Joakim Noah, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) handles the ball between Memphis Grizzlies center Joakim Noah, left, and guard Avery Bradley in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Lakers forward LeBron James shoots over Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley during the first half of Monday’s game in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, center, shoots between Memphis Grizzlies forward Justin Holiday, left, and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center calls to teammates as he controls the ball against Memphis Grizzlies forward Bruno Caboclo, left, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers guard Reggie Bullock (35) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley (0)in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas, left, controls the ball against Los Angeles Lakers center Tyson Chandler in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11), Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, center, and Grizzlies forward Justin Holiday (7) struggle for control of the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton gestures from the sideline in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies guard Delon Wright (2) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff reacts from the sideline in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) fouls Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, front right, handles the ball against Memphis Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, center, drives between Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) and guard Reggie Bullock (35) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, left, and head coach Luke Walton look on from the sideline in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots between Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and forward Bruno Caboclo (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies center Joakim Noah, left, controls the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) plays in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies center Joakim Noah (55) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) plays in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart (3) shoots the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (17) plays in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) stands on the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) stands on the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Lakers forward LeBron James talks with referee Ken Mauer during the second half of Monday’s game against the Grizzlies in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas (17) and guard Mike Conley (11) high-five in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies forward Bruno Caboclo (5) and guard Mike Conley (11) talk between plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives ahead of Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) and forward Brandon Ingram in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, and Grizzlies center Joakim Noah, center, fall to the court as they struggle for control of the ball with Lakers center Tyson Chandler during the second half of Monday’s game in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)NextShow Caption1 of 36Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, and Grizzlies center Joakim Noah, center, fall to the court as they struggle for control of the ball with Lakers center Tyson Chandler during the second half of Monday’s game in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)ExpandMEMPHIS, Tenn. — The cloud over LeBron James was not as dark as it had been two nights before.In New Orleans, the Lakers superstar had questioned if his team had the character to make the playoffs. Monday night in Memphis, he simply felt regret as sequences unfolded over and over again in his head.A missed shot here. Not getting the rebound there. There were a handful of moments in a 110-105 defeat to the Grizzlies that didn’t go the Lakers’ way. And though they brought more intensity and effort after lacking both in the first stop on their two-game trip, that wasn’t enough to change the result.“This is a tough loss, obviously,” he said. “I’m replaying plays throughout my mind right now. It’s tough. But just stay positive and keep watching the film.” “I think that we all were negatives tonight,” he said. “It’s been like that the last couple of games. Just got to find a rhythm. No excuses. We have to get better, come in and give the starters a little bit of rest and go from there.”With the 0-2 trip, the Lakers squandered a chance to bolster their record against two of the remaining opponents they’ll face with losing records. While New Orleans and Phoenix appear later this week, there are also upcoming games against Milwaukee, Denver and Boston, as well as the Clippers, who are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference.Walton acknowledged pressure might be affecting the team, but he hoped the players would allow themselves to be emotionally steeped in the loss a little longer after the fact as they try to change their fortunes.“Feel this pain: Let’s not try to run from it,” Walton said. “It should hurt that we lost, that we went 0-2 on this trip. But the only thing that matters is the next game, the chance to redeem ourselves against New Orleans. We don’t need to look further than that.” Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs last_img read more