Depleted Lakers miss late opportunities in loss to Grizzlies, 103-100

Depleted Lakers miss late opportunities in loss to Grizzlies, 103-100
Memphis center Marc Gasol goes up to the basket against Lakers center Timofey Mozgov during the second half of a game on Dec. 3. (Brandon Dill / Associated Press)

The Lakers closed out a bruising road trip with a dramatic loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, 103-100. 

After a Memphis turnover in the waning seconds of the game, Julius Randle was fouled shooting a three-pointer with the Lakers down by three and 5.9 seconds left. 

Randle missed all three free throws. He rebounded the third miss, and gave the ball to Jordan Clarkson for one last heave, but Clarkson’s attempt fell short.

It capped a frantic final minute during which the also injury-riddled Grizzlies had a little bit more juice. The Lakers fell to 1-3 on a four-game trip that lasted five days. They played without two starters for most of every game on the trip. Los Angeles returns home 10-12, while the Grizzlies improved to 13-8.


“They made the little plays,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. "I told our guys I was real proud of the way we fought tonight. The amount of travel on our road trip for being a West Coast team. Four in five (days). 


“Having the injuries we had. It would’ve been easy to just give in tonight. Our guys really competed and played hard. Down the stretch they got to a couple loose balls that turned into big plays. We had our chances. On the road in the NBA, that’s really all you can ask for is to have a chance to win the game.”


The Lakers led by as many as 11 points, but a fourth-quarter Grizzlies run changed the game. Their 9-2 run was capped by a hook shot by Memphis center Marc Gasol, which gave Memphis a six-point lead with 1:15 left in the game. 


The Lakers cut the Grizzlies' lead to three with a trademark "Lou Williams and one" offering — a driving floater, a drawn foul and a made free throw.

For the next 51.8 seconds, the score didn’t change, but so much else did. The Grizzlies had three different chances to extend their lead. Luol Deng blocked one — a Tony Allen layup attempt with 35.6 seconds to go. Allen got the rebound, but JaMychal Green’s shot missed. Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram tossed the ball off Grizzlies forward Tony Allen to return possession to the Lakers with 29.8 seconds left.

"Just try to make a play, try to be aggressive," Ingram said. "Knew we had to rebound the basketball we had to make a big play."

At the other end, Williams, who was nearly unstoppable in the first half, missed a 23-foot fadeaway that would have tied the score with about 20.8 seconds left.

Still, the Lakers got one more chance. Deng stole Allen's inbounds pass, but Randle couldn't convert the free throws after the foul.

The Lakers led by as many as 11 points during the game, but their dwindling group of healthy players couldn't hang on to the lead.

With three guards injured, the Lakers turned to Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson and Marcelo Huertas to fill the void. Williams did so in a big way early.

He scored 28 first-half points, a mix of threes, layups and one two-handed dunk. He also made 11 of 11 free throws.

Both teams entered the game shorthanded. The Grizzlies only dressed nine players, with Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, James Ennis, Vince Carter, Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright all out because of injuries. 

The Lakers were less afflicted, but missing key players nonetheless. Starting guards D’Angelo Russell (left-knee soreness) and Nick Young (right-calf strain) both remained out, while Larry Nance Jr. missed the game because of a right-knee contusion he suffered on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors

Then, eight minutes into the game, Jose Calderon tweaked his right hamstring and didn’t return. Calderon had been starting for Russell. Walton replaced him with Jordan Clarkson 

"The disappointment's in losing, sucks," Walton said. "You don't want to lose. We're a young team with injuries. It's more important that we focus on the fact that the fourth game in five nights our guys competed their tails off.

"Instead of focusing on the disappointment of the loss, I'm gonna focus on the positives of the way we got after it tonight."

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli