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Apr 11, 2024 5:57 pm

Lakers face Grizzlies with chance to catch Kings in standings

lebron james

LeBron James isn’t dwelling on the missed opportunities that have the Los Angeles Lakers jockeying for a better seed in the Western Conference play-in tournament.

James is instead focused on the task at hand — helping Los Angeles beat the host Memphis Grizzlies when the teams collide on Friday night.

At ninth in the West with just two games remaining in the regular season, Los Angeles (45-35) can no longer land a top-six seed in the conference, but it still has plenty to play for.

Entering Thursday, the Lakers were just a half-game behind Sacramento for the No. 8 seed. If Los Angeles were to overtake the Kings, it would have a chance to drop a game in the play-in and still have life.

The loser of the game between the No. 7 and 8 seeds goes on to face the winner of the meeting between the No. 9 and 10 seeds. The loser of the 9-10 contest is eliminated from play-in contention.

After what has been an up-and-down regular season, James isn’t letting what-ifs stand in the way of improving his team’s play-in stock.

“That doesn’t change anything, ’cause it is what it is today,” James said of the impact of early-season results. “So you focus on the present and forget about the past and (focus on) just how we can get better in the future.”

It looked like the Lakers were going to potentially sneak their way into a top-six spot in the West when they went 9-1 from March 18-April 6, but they have since dropped back-to-back games.

Los Angeles most recently fell 134-120 to Golden State on Tuesday, watching as the Warriors shot a stunning 63.4 percent (26 of 41) from 3-point range. James had 33 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in the loss.

Anthony Davis (headache/nausea) missed the contest. His status is up in the air for Friday.

Memphis (27-53) is just trying to build momentum for next season as it attempts to put a campaign ravaged by injuries behind it.

The Grizzlies have sandwiched a three-game winning streak between a pair of three-game skids over their past nine games. They are coming off a 110-98 setback against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

Jake LaRavia canned eight 3-pointers and poured in a career-high 32 points in the loss, while 19-year-old GG Jackson added 22 points.

“It was one of those nights where anything I was throwing up was going in,” LaRavia said. “I’m playing with confidence in my abilities and I’m just trying to take advantage of my opportunities.”

LaRavia has averaged 16.7 points and 4.3 boards over his past six games, connecting on 53.5 percent of his attempts from long range during that stretch.

With Memphis having a young core that has remained optimistic through plenty of adversity, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins is looking forward to what the future holds.

“Having a woe-is-me attitude isn’t going to help, but that hasn’t been a problem for us,” Jenkins said. “Our attitude has been fantastic all year.”

Friday marks the finale of the four-game season series between the teams. The Lakers have taken two of the previous three meetings with Memphis.

–Field Level Media

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