It wouldn't have been the prettiest victory, asterisked with enough bloopers to fill a goofy scoreboard compilation during a timeout.
But the only victory the Lakers could claim Friday was a moral one.
They hung around with the Memphis Grizzlies for a remarkably long time before everybody lived up to their place in the Western Conference standings.
One of Jeremy Lin's best efforts this season was wasted, as was a spirited game by Ed Davis in the Lakers' 109-106 loss at Staples Center.
It came down to one free throw by Davis, who made the first of two after being clobbered by Tayshaun Prince with 2.8 seconds left and the Lakers down two. His second free throw rimmed out, an unsurprising event for a player who entered with a 49% success rate from the line.
"It felt good. I thought it was going in. Got to get back in the gym [Saturday], get some more of those so next time I'm in that situation I can get 'em," Davis said.
The Grizzlies made two free throws at the other end, Kobe Bryant missed an off-balance three-point attempt as time expired and the Lakers fell to 10-23.
There was some late-game confusion involving Lin, which led to an outburst on the court from Bryant, though Coach Byron Scott took the blame for it.
Bryant brought the Lakers to within one on a long three-pointer with 24.2 seconds left but they didn't foul right away. After Memphis was already set up at the other end, Bryant ran toward the three-point line and fouled Mike Conley with 12.6 seconds left.
Bryant clapped his hands together in anger. Scott later said Lin shouldn't be blamed. He said he wanted the players to wait until there were about 10 seconds left until fouling.
Said Scott: "I told Kobe that was my judgment just to hold off for a minute."
Bryant blamed the loss on the team's overall lack of experience. There were other unpredictable factors in play.
Carlos Boozer fouled out early in the fourth quarter and Jordan Hill joined him a few minutes later, leaving the Lakers with precious few big men. So they finished the game with Davis, Lin, Bryant, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young on the court.
Davis had bucked his season-long trend, making five of six from the line before the fateful foul. Referees reviewed it on a courtside TV and Lakers fans booed when a common foul was called instead of a flagrant foul.
Bryant was again more playmaker than scorer, getting 15 points on six-for-14 shooting and adding eight assists with nine rebounds in 34 minutes.
The Grizzlies (24-8) don't really dazzle people. They mainly survive. The Lakers' previous games against them had been relatively close — a five-point loss in Memphis and a six-point loss at home.
Memphis prevailed Friday despite missing Zach Randolph (sore knee). Conley had 19 points and nine assists and Marc Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"They win games like this a lot, where they just grind it out," Scott said.
On one silly sequence, Tony Allen missed three shots down low, including an uncontested layup after he stole the ball. The Lakers assumed possession after Memphis center Kosta Koufos interfered with Allen's fourth attempt.
Davis had 20 points and eight rebounds while wearing a plastic mask, the after-effect of Nate Robinson's hard foul on him Tuesday in Denver. Bonus points had to be given to the Staples Center organist who played "Phantom of the Opera" while Davis shot free throws in the second quarter.
Lin had 20 points and five assists, only his second 20-point game since being acquired from Houston.