Lakers continue late-game issues in 97-90 loss to Memphis

first_imgMEMPHIS, Tenn. >> They stepped onto the court determined to fight through the contact. They seemed ready to absorb the bruising blows to their body. They appeared eager to follow through on the advice their head coach told them beforehand.“Let’s punch them in the face,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said, “and see what happens.”The Lakers jabbed. They ducked. And then the Lakers punched some more. But eventually they fell after receiving a knockout punch. The Lakers suffered a 97-90 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at Fed Ex Forum, marking their fourth consecutive loss that provided more examples on how the Lakers have failed to secure a close game, something Kobe Bryant once did well. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “He cherishes those moments,” Scott said. “We don’t have one specific guy that we can go to that can get us a shot.”The Lakers (16-45) have painfully experienced this both before and after Bryant suffered a season-ending injury last month to his right shoulder. The Lakers lost three of their other matchups to Memphis this season by five, four and three points. The Lakers’ past three losses were decided by six, one and seven points. This time, the Lakers lost despite outrebounding Memphis, 44-42, and holding a 79-69 lead with 9:06 remaining. Rookie guard Jordan Clarkson continued showing his growth by notching a career-high 25 points on 12-of-18 shooting and six assists. But the Grizzlies (44-17) put veteran forward Tony Allen on Clarkson in the fourth quarter where he scored only two points on three shot attempts. Scott observed Memphis’ switch “showed they a lot of respect to Jordan’s game by putting one of the best defensive players in the league on him.”“(Allen) got physical a little bit and put pressure on me,” said Clarkson, who had the second-highest rookie scoring performance since 1996, trailing only Ryan Kelly’s 26 points last season. “I was trying to get to my stuff. But he took me off my rhythm a little bit.”center_img The Lakers went on two scoreless fourth-quarter stretches that lasted for two and three minutes, respectively. They also shot 1 of 11 from 3-point range.“We got to move the ball and trust each other,” said Lakers guard Jeremy Lin, who had only four points on 1-of-5 shooting and three assists. “It’s not that we’re not purposely trusting each other. But when they tighten up, we’re scared to make the extra pass.”The most notable miss involved Lakers forward Jordan Hill attempting a 21-foot jumper that rimmed out as the Lakers trailed 89-87 with 27 seconds remaining. “I was wide open,” said Hill, whose 13 points came on only 6-of-15 shooting. “But when I shot it, it curved on me.”Then the result became official when Clarkson committed a turnover and his sixth foul on Grizzlies guard Mike Conley as the Lakers trailed 93-89 with 13 seconds left. That concluded a week with Clarkson’s growth coinciding with missing potential game-tying shots in Charlotte and Miami. “He’s learning he can play in this league at a very high level,” Scott said of Clarkson. “He’s also learning the last three or four minutes of the game is where he has to be at his best.”The Lakers are also learning that too, one loss at a time. last_img read more