Carrying a franchise-record-tying 11 consecutive victories, the Memphis Grizzlies head to the West Coast on Friday, when they face the Los Angeles Lakers to start a five-game road trip.
The Grizzlies beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, completing a stretch in which they played five of six games at home and are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA. Steven Adams tipped in a Ja Morant miss with 16 seconds remaining for the go-ahead points in the 115-114 decision.
Cleveland could manage only a long 3-point attempt by Darius Garland, which Dillon Brooks blocked with 1 second remaining. Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. also rejected Garland with 27 seconds on the clock before Adams’ tip-in.
Desmond Bane scored 25 points for the Grizzlies, while Morant added 24. Adams had 10 rebounds to go along with his 13 points.
The Grizzlies have scored at least 115 points in every game of the winning streak. They first won 11 games last season from Dec. 26, 2021-Jan. 13, 2022. The current streak started Dec. 29.
“This feels good, but obviously we have a little bit of cleaning up to do,” Morant said. “We have to improve in some areas and keep doing the good things right. It’s big time for us, No. 11.
“We’re just taking it day by day and focusing on the next important thing … recovering our bodies and get ready for the next game.”
The Lakers look like they are in desperate need of a recovery day. They built a five-game winning streak into the start of the new year, then lost three in a row before ending that skid with a 140-132 victory against the Houston Rockets on Monday when LeBron James scored 48 points.
But Wednesday, Los Angeles appeared to run out of gas in a game against the Sacramento Kings that was tied at 108 with 1:10 remaining. The Lakers were outscored 8-3 after that and lost 116-111 despite 32 points from James, who was just 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter.
The 38-year-old has averaged 40.0 points over his last eight games. He now has 38,104 career points, 283 behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time NBA scoring lead.
Yet despite James’ clear effort to dig deep with fellow star Anthony Davis still sidelined with a stress injury to his right foot, the Lakers have lost four of five. The last three defeats have come by a combined 10 points.
“It (stinks) to lose these close games but I still feel wholeheartedly, we’re going to break all the way through,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said. “We’re competing, in my opinion, at a very high level. We have guys we are trying to mix and match due to injury and we’re trying to find out what collection of players down the stretch that you can go with.”
In addition to Davis, Lonnie Walker IV has missed 10 games with left knee tendonitis and Austin Reaves has missed seven games with a left hamstring strain.
Friday’s game is the first meeting of the season between the Grizzlies and Lakers, with a game in Memphis set for Feb. 28 and another in Los Angeles on March 7.
–Field Level Media