NBA Basketball

Lakers' playoff push continues at Grizzlies

The Los Angeles Lakers will try to regain traction heading into the stretch run of the season.

They will visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, two nights after an uninspiring effort in a 128-115 loss at the New Orleans Pelicans, who were resting star center Anthony Davis.

Before heading out on a two-game road trip to New Orleans and Memphis, the Lakers hosted the Houston Rockets and delivered one of their best performances of the season in a 111-106 victory. The Lakers are 10th in the Western Conference, chasing one of the eight playoff spots.

"We have, what -- 23 games left?" said Lakers star LeBron James. "We'll see what happens."

The Grizzlies long ago abandoned their playoff hopes. They have lost four in a row to fall to 23-38.

Jonas Valanciunas, who left a playoff-bound team earlier this month when the Toronto Raptors traded him to Memphis for fellow center Marc Gasol, hadn't lost four in a row in the past two seasons with the Raptors.

"Losing stinks," Valanciunas said. "We're trying to learn how to win games."

The Lakers and Grizzlies split two meetings earlier this season.

Los Angeles was coming off a loss at the San Antonio Spurs the night before when it traveled to Memphis and bounced back with a 111-88 win on Dec. 8. James and Kyle Kuzma each scored 20 points for the Lakers in the win.

On Dec. 23 in Los Angeles, the Grizzlies bounced back with 107-99 win, which ended a five-game losing streak.

James strained his groin two days later in a Christmas Day win against the Golden State Warriors and missed the next 17 games. The Lakers went 6-11 without James and have continued to hover around .500 in the eight games since his return.

James, who has played in the past eight NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, hasn't liked what he has seen lately.

"The last few years, everyone's so accustomed to the losses that I'm just not accustomed to," James said, referring to his current teammates. "I'm not accustomed to it. I will never get comfortable with losing. "

Particularly frustrating has been the demise of the Los Angeles defense, especially away from home. They Lakers have allowed at least 115 points in nine straight road games, which ties the franchise record.

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo, another Los Angeles player with playoff experience, said the Lakers need to reach deeper on defense.

"We have no other choice," he said.

"It's either we do or we don't. We do, we make the playoffs, and still with that mindset if we do, if we get in the playoffs we can easily get swept in four games. So we have to start buying into the scouting report and start buying into each other and start to play for each other a lot more."

Chandler Parsons has played the past two games for the Grizzlies after missing 56 games with a recurring knee injury. Parsons, 30, has seen his scoring average drop in each of the past five seasons, from 16.6 points a game with the Houston Rockets in 2013-14 to 4.8 in five games this season.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 24, 2019

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