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Los Angeles Lakers hold off Memphis Grizzlies, climb to .500

By
Dan Arritt, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Lakers Julius Randle is fouled by Pelicans guard Hollis Thompson (32) at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 5, 2017. File photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Los Angeles Lakers Julius Randle is fouled by Pelicans guard Hollis Thompson (32) at Staples Center in Los Angeles, March 5, 2017. File photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES -- Long one of the NBA's elite franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers now count playing .500 basketball as a major accomplishment.

They got back to that mark for the first time in nearly a year with a 107-102 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday at Staples Center.

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It didn't come easily for the Lakers, who have missed the playoffs each of the past four seasons while finishing well below .500. Los Angeles (5-5) led by 22 points in the third quarter and maintained a double-digit cushion for most of the fourth until Tyreke Evans made a layup with 1:38 left to get the Grizzlies within 103-95.

The Lakers' next two possessions were a shot-clock violation and a turnover by rookie guard Lonzo Ball. In between, Mike Conley sank a 3-pointer to pull Memphis within five.

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Lakers center Brook Lopez was then called for a flagrant-1 foul on Dillon Brooks, who made both free throws to get the Grizzlies within 103-100.

Los Angeles' Kentavious Caldwell-Pope forced a turnover on the ensuing possession, however, and Caldwell-Pope then sank a jumper with 18 seconds left to make it a two-possession game.

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"We're finding ways to compete and bring the energy level and defend," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "Ten games in, I wouldn't have thought, honestly, we were ready to start doing that."

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Lopez led Los Angeles with 21 points. Brandon Ingram scored 14 of his 20 points in the final four minutes of the third quarter. Jordan Clarkson and Caldwell-Pope scored 15 apiece, and Kyle Kuzma finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers.

"We're moving the ball extremely well, playing very unselfishly," Lopez said.

Julius Randle contributed 12 points, and Ball had nine points and nine rebounds while shooting 3 of 13 from the floor.

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Evans scored 26 points off the bench, and Conley had 23 for the Grizzlies (6-4). Marc Gasol amassed 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Brooks finished with 13 points.

"They really got after us," Memphis coach David Fizdale said. "The shots that we feel we should have made, we couldn't get them to go for whatever reason, but we fought back."

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Los Angeles shot 47.1 percent from the floor to Memphis' 46 percent. The Lakers posted a 46-39 advantage on the glass, helping them overcome 16 turnovers. The Grizzles gave the ball away 12 times.

The Lakers have won two in a row for the first time this season and four straight against the Grizzlies at Staples Center.

"We've been clicking defensively. We've getting stops and we've been taking pride in it," Caldwell-Pope said. "We're rebounding the ball, and we're pushing it, so we've got to continue to do that."

Ingram's second three-point play with five seconds left in the second quarter allowed the Lakers to match their biggest lead at 62-51.

Evans sank a 3-pointer with one second left to cut the deficit back to eight at the break, but the Lakers took control with a 12-0 run midway through the third quarter that stretched the advantage to 82-60.

"We were basically within one possession of the game (at the end)," Fizdale said. "That was the thing I most happy about is the resolve we showed and our huddles were awesome. Guys were really encouraging each other and trying to find solutions."

Lopez started the season 8 of 30 from 3-point range but shot 6 of 9 from 3-point distance and scored 34 points with 10 rebounds in a 124-112 win against the visiting Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. He made his first three 3-point tries against the Grizzlies, all in the first half, before finishing 4 of 6.

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Both teams had 7-0 runs in the opening quarter but neither led by more than four points and the Lakers took a 27-24 edge into the second.

The Lakers shot 58.3 percent from the field in the second quarter to extend their lead to 62-54 at the half.

NOTES: Memphis F Chandler Parsons did not play so he could rest as the Grizzlies played for the second time in two days. Memphis beat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-104 on Saturday. ... Grizzlies PF Jarell Martin started his ninth straight game after starting three of his first 70 NBA games. Martin went scoreless in 23 minutes. ... Memphis posted a 46-29 edge in bench points. ... Grizzlies G Tyreke Evans entered the game as the top scoring reserve in the NBA at 16.1 points. ... Lakers PF Julius Randle surpassed 2,000 career points when he scored his sixth on Sunday. ... Lakers PG Lonzo Ball has hit just 6 of 30 shots from the floor over his past three games.

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