Entering Tuesday’s action in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers are 12th in the West at 29-32 and a half game behind New Orleans for the final play-in tournament spot in the Western Conference and two games behind Dallas for the sixth spot and automatic entry into the postseason. Getting either is going to be very tough with the news that LeBron James is likely to miss weeks with a foot injury suffered in Sunday’s win in Dallas in which LA rallied from down 27 points.
Goodbye Playoffs? Lakers Expected To Be Without LeBron James For Weeks
The 38-year-old James was walking with a noticeable limp following the game. He fell to the floor in pain late in the third quarter after driving on Dallas’ Dwight Powell but finished the game, scoring 11 of his 26 points in the third quarter as LA won its third in a row. ESPN cameras and microphones recorded James declaring, “I heard a pop” after the non-contact injury as he clutched his foot in pain.
James posted a photo of his injured foot to his Instagram story on Monday, after it was announced he would miss Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, along with the caption: “Fkn sucks!!!!”
Over All-Star Weekend, James dubbed the final stretch of the Lakers’ season “23 of the most important games” of his career and planned to play in all of them. Anthony Davis has proven he can handle an MVP-caliber workload, and D’Angelo Russell can withstand a larger offensive role based on his track record in Brooklyn and Minnesota. But there is no replacing James’ All-NBA-level play this season.
Without LeBron on the floor, the Lakers’ offensive rating of 107.2 would be the worst in the league, and their net rating of mins-6.6 would be fourth worst, ahead of just the tanking Spurs, Rockets and Pistons. The Lakers are 5-9 (.357) without James this season and 36-62 (.367) without him during his Los Angeles tenure.
For tonight’s game without James and probably Russell, who is doubtful with a right ankle sprain, Los Angeles is a 9-point underdog in Memphis. Russell will likely miss a second straight contest after suffering a right ankle sprain during the first game back following the All-Star break. Davis is listed as probable but always is and should play. He has been dealing with a stress injury in his right foot recently but has been able to play through the issue. Davis has posted double-doubles in eight of his last nine appearances and has averaged 22.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 33.2 minutes per game during that time.
The Grizzlies, who are second in the West, remain without starting center Steven Adams. Coach Taylor Jenkins said Monday that Adams (knee) has progressed to 5-on-5 work recently, but the Grizzlies aren’t expecting the big man back until after their upcoming four-game road trip at the earliest. Adams hasn’t played since Jan. 22 due to a right knee sprain, and given the coach’s timeline, the veteran will miss at least five more contests before he has a chance to suit up.
The Lakers beat the Grizzlies 122-121 in the only meeting this season on Jan. 20. Dennis Schröder completed a three-point play with 7.6 seconds after a steal, and Los Angeles rallied past Memphis to snap the Grizzlies’ winning streak at 11 games. LA trailed 114-107 with 3:04 remaining before outscoring the Grizzlies 15-7 the rest of the way. Russell Westbrook led the Lakers with 29 points and LeBron added 23. Westbrook is now with the Clippers.
Memphis’ Brandon Clarke was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining and made the first free throw but missed the second. Memphis shot 26-of-40 from the foul line (.650). The Grizzlies scored a franchise-record 39 second chance points, the most by any NBA team since the league began tracking the stat in the 1996-97 season.
The two teams have met 100 times and 78 times since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis. The Lakers lead the all-time series 62-38 and have a 40-37 record versus the Grizzlies since the team moved to Memphis. The Grizzlies are 25-5 at home this year.
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