Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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NBA Preview: Los Angeles Lakers (29-32) at Memphis Grizzlies (36-23)

When the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, one of the powerhouses of the Western Conference, LeBron James will be unable to play due to an injury.

The Lakers won 122-121 in Los Angeles last month thanks to a 41-point fourth quarter explosion and a go-ahead three-point play by Dennis Schroder with seven seconds left. This will be the first of two meetings between the teams over eight days.

Russell Westbrook scored 29 points for the Lakers in that game. He is no longer a part of the team, but Anthony Davis, who was injured in that game, has come back to help Los Angeles win three straight games, including a remarkable comeback win over Dallas on Sunday, 111-108.

Against the Mavericks, Davis scored 30 points. Jarred Vanderbilt contributed with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Malik Beasley, a newcomer, added eight points.

James scored 26 points in the victory, but in the third quarter, he stepped on an opponent’s foot and twisted his right foot. He was able to finish the game, but it was obvious that he was still in pain.

Even though James acknowledged the significance of each, he had left the possibility open that he might miss one or both of the Lakers’ upcoming games against Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Due to soreness in his right foot, James was officially listed as out for the game against the Grizzlies on Monday.

The Lakers also made the announcement that starting point guard D’Angelo Russell is not expected to play in the Memphis game because of a right ankle sprain. Russell missed the Dallas game.

The Grizzlies, like the Lakers, are coming off one of their best performances of the season. In what was billed as a possible preview of the Western Conference finals, they blitzed the Denver Nuggets, the best team in the West, on Saturday night with a 38-22 second-quarter performance that resulted in a comfortable 112-94 victory.

With 23 points, Ja Morant led the winning team. With a group of Western teams, including the Lakers, poised to challenge the Grizzlies and Nuggets in the playoffs, Tyus Jones led in tempered enthusiasm with 17 points off the bench.

On a four-game road trip that begins on Wednesday in Houston, the Grizzlies will take on the Nuggets, Lakers, and the newly restocked Los Angeles Clippers.

Taking a different look at the Western playoff picture, the Lakers and Grizzlies will take the court.

Los Angeles started the week in 12th place in the West despite having two significant victories over Dallas and Golden State following the All-Star break. With just 21 games remaining, that was a game out of the final playoff play-in spot and 2 1/2 out of a top-six landing.

In contrast, Memphis’ victory over Denver only reduced the Nuggets’ lead by one game to 5 1/2 games. Only one head-to-head match remains between the teams, on Friday in Denver.

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