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SPORTS

LeBron James Scores 37, Anthony Davis Finishes with 36 as the Lakers Beat Grizzlies 123-120

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — LeBron James had 37 points — including six in the final minute — and 10 rebounds, and Anthony Davis had 36 points and 14 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies 123-120 on Friday night.

Davis, returning from a left eye injury that kept him out of the Lakers’ loss to Golden State on Tuesday, was 11 of 22 in this game. James shot 13 for 20 to help the Lakers snap a two-game losing streak.

“I felt fine. No issues,” Davis said. “Felt pretty good out there.”

GG Jackson scored 31 points to lead the Grizzlies, while Scotty Pippen Jr. had a career-high 28. Jake LaRavia also finished with 28 points, and Jordan Goodwin added 23 points and 16 rebounds.

Pippen added five rebounds, six assists and four steals to his stat line.

“He sticks his body in there, lays it on the line,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of Pippen, adding, “(he) was really impressive. This was one of his best games all season.”

Memphis led 99-98 early in the fourth quarter, and was still close through the quarter. LaRavia’s two free throws with 1:06 left gave Memphis a 118-117 lead. But James scored on a drive and then on either side of two free throws as Los Angeles pulled away.

James played just under 41 minutes and Davis played almost 43. However, Lakers coach Darvin Ham said he wasn’t worried about how much his two leading scorers played because ‘We all understand what’s at stake.”

“In the moment, you’re not worried about that,” Ham said. “You’re worried about securing the victory you came to get. … Everyone knows what time it is. It’s that time of the year. Whatever we need, and however long we need to push guys, we’ve got to have it, and they understand that.”

The Lakers already are assured of making the Western Conference play-in round of the postseason and are just jockeying for position. The Lakers began the day in a three-way tie with Sacramento and Golden State for spots 8-10. The Kings and Warriors played their games later Friday night.

Los Angeles emerged from the play-in last season before dispatching the second-seeded Grizzlies and Warriors to reach the Western Conference finals, where the Lakers were swept by Denver, the conference’s top seed and eventual NBA champion.

“Every game matters. Every seed matters,” James said. “Wherever you fall, you can’t play in the past. I can’t say I would much rather be where we are today than the 1 seed. That would be a lie. Seeds matter, and wherever you fall, you take that challenge.”

Memphis, meanwhile, is simply limping to the finish line in a season filled with injuries. As they did in previous games, the Grizzlies had more players on the injury list and not dressing (13), than active for the game (eight).

The Grizzlies patchwork rotation made up primarily of two-way players and 10-day contracts, stayed even with Los Angeles throughout the game. Only the push by James in the final minute, including a breakaway dunk with 5.2 seconds left sealed the Lakers victory.

“The emphasis going into the game was to play hard,” Pippen said. “We knew they were playing for something, and they probably thought we were playing for nothing. But a lot of guys here are playing for opportunities. That’s our motivation.”

UP NEXT

Lakers: At New Orleans on Sunday to finish the regular season.

Grizzlies: Host Denver on Sunday in the season finale.


BY CLAY BAILEY Associated Press

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