Lakers try to stay hot at home, entertain Grizzlies
The Los Angeles Lakers will try to run their home winning streak to seven games when they play the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.
The Lakers (19-13) defeated the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 112-104 on Friday night behind 22 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists from LeBron James, his second triple-double in the past four games.
The Grizzlies (16-16) have lost five in a row and will try to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since beginning the season with a loss at the Indiana Pacers. Memphis rebounded to win five of the next six and climbed as high as seven games above .500 before falling to 4-11 since its last trip to Staples Center, a 112-107 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 23.
Memphis is looking for bounce-back seasons from its two leading scorers and most veteran players, point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol, who each had career-low shooting marks last season.
Conley, 31, has bumped up his shooting percentage to 41.8 after shooting 38.1 last season.
Gasol, 33, is up to 43.9 after shooting 42 percent last season, but is a combined 7-for-25 from the floor in the past two games.
"You never get too high and you never get too low," Gasol told reporters following a 102-99 loss at the Sacramento Kings on Friday. "When you're 12-5, you continue to work and continue to do the things that you do and continue to get better. You lose five in a row, you do the same thing. You don't over-react. That's how this league works. You'll have good ones and you'll have bad ones. Hopefully, we'll learn from it and the bad runs stop now, and we get on the other side again and build on it."
The Lakers are allowing an average of 111.4 points, but held the Grizzlies to 88 in a 23-point win Dec. 8 in Memphis.
Los Angeles didn't have starting forward Brandon Ingram (ankle) or backup point guard Rajon Rondo (hand) in that game, but both returned Friday against New Orleans and contributed to the victory.
After missing the previous seven games, Ingram had 18 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes. Rondo had eight points and nine assists in 22 reserve minutes. He had missed the previous 17 games.
"It was really nice having our guys back," Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after the win. "Brandon, I thought, made winning plays all game long. ... I thought he did a really nice job of watching what the team has been doing while he was hurt, and then coming in and playing that same way."
The Lakers have been without starting center JaVale McGee the past three games because of an illness, but Ivica Zubac has filled in nicely. He established season highs with 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Pelicans while being guarded by one of the top center's in the league, Anthony Davis.
"It's what we always tell our guys, 'Stay ready and work, and your opportunity will come,' and he took full advantage of that (Friday) night," Walton said.
Updated December 22, 2018