It's all good: Lakers lose, and Jordan Clarkson puts on a show

Lakers, who could benefit on draft day by losing now, come from ahead and fall to Memphis, one of West's elite

Jordan Clarkson's phone would not stop making noise.

Ping ping Ping. Ping ping ping.

Clarkson had just scored a career-high 25 points and added six assists against the NBA's top defense statistically, painting another coat on an already promising rookie season while creating quite the melody of text messages from friends and family as he sat in front of his locker.

The Lakers lost an effort-filled game to the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-90, what would normally qualify as a bad loss because they led by eight near the midpoint of the fourth quarter.

But are there really "bad losses" these days for the Lakers, keepers of the NBA's fourth-worst record (16-45) almost 3½ months from draft day?

With Julius Randle sidelined since opening night because of a broken leg, Clarkson has become the face of hope for a franchise in need of it.

The reverence he received Friday at FedEx Forum came in the form of one of the league's best defenders.

Clarkson scored at will on Courtney Lee and sometimes Mike Conley, prompting a Grizzlies fan to yell "Who are you?" as he took a rest with 23 points and five assists midway through the third quarter.

Tony Allen started matching up against him in the fourth, ending Clarkson's burst. It also opened up a new concept in Clarkson's brief 18-game run as an NBA starting point guard.

"They gave a lot of respect to Jordan's game," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said. "I think Jordan should look at that as a very good positive because Tony is a lock-down type of guy. I'm probably 50% sure he was in the huddle, saying, 'Let me guard him.' I think it's great for Jordan because he's going to get more matchups like that. Guys want to take that challenge because the rookie's playing well."

Clarkson made 12 of 18 shots against the defense allowing an NBA-best 95.7 points a game. He hit a lot of runners in the lane, including some teardrops that feathered into the net.

He wasn't all about scoring, either. The most animation he showed was after firing a pass to Ed Davis for a fourth-quarter dunk. Clarkson yelled, pumped his fists and headed ecstatically toward the Lakers' bench as Memphis called a timeout.

He was the eighth point guard taken in last year's draft, the 46th overall pick.

"It's definitely motivation, the guys that went in front of me," Clarkson said. "Bigger chip for me on my shoulder. I'm going out there and trying to prove people wrong and get wins as well."

Zach Randolph had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Memphis (44-17) on a night when the best point guard, surprisingly, was not Conley (12 points, six assists).

"I'm never satisfied, man," Clarkson said. "I want to continue to keep working. I'm trying to do great things."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan

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