Mon, 06 Apr 2020

Lakers may be without LeBron again at Memphis

Field Level Media
29 Feb 2020, 17:40 GMT+10

The Los Angeles Lakers may not know if LeBron James is available to play Saturday until close to tip-off.

The 35-year-old James is dealing with soreness in his left groin and could miss his second consecutive contest when the Lakers visit the Memphis Grizzlies in search of their eighth straight win.

Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel isn't interested in guessing at James' status, but the game against Memphis is on the front end of a back-to-back. The Lakers visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

James apparently tweaked the groin during Tuesday's 118-109 home win over the Pelicans, in a contest in which he scored a season-high 40 points.

His presence wasn't missed as the Lakers rolled to a 116-86 road victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

However, All-Star power forward Anthony Davis was pleased to see the quality of play with James not suited up.

"We got to get better at that," Davis told reporters. "Usually when (James is) playing and he comes off the floor, we kind of take a dip in all aspects of the game. Just the way, the same way we played (Thursday) without him, we got to play like that when he's playing, but when he's not on the floor."

James isn't the only Los Angeles starter in jeopardy of sitting out the contest. Shooting guard Danny Green (hip) is considered doubtful.

Davis scored a team-best 23 points in the win over Golden State. The easy nature of the victory presented an opportunity to give newcomer Markieff Morris a long look.

Morris played 19 minutes and contributed eight points and four rebounds in his second game since joining the club. He recently accepted a buyout from the Detroit Pistons.

"I think defensively he's getting more comfortable with our coverages, and you saw him knock down two threes, got him a couple of post touches, another way we can use him," Vogel told reporters of Morris. "I think every minute he's out there with these guys gets him more comfortable."

The Lakers are looking to complete a four-game season sweep of the Grizzlies. Los Angeles earned win No. 3 last week with a 117-105 home triumph on Feb. 21.

Memphis is reeling, with five straight setbacks after losing 104-101 at home to the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

The Grizzlies reside in the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot but the fast-charging Pelicans are just two games behind.

"I feel like it is good pressure," shooting guard Dillon Brooks said of the skid coming in the middle of the playoff pursuit. "We were playing well, but we've hit a big adversity like this. We're hitting it now, and we're being tested."

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins was putting up a brave face after the game as he attempts to keep his young squad from getting flustered during its slump.

"The guys are finding a way. Unfortunately it didn't lead to a win," Jenkins told reporters. "The resolve and competitiveness from our guys was great."

One player who did great was Brooks, who scored a season-best 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting. It marks the first time Brooks has shot 50 percent or better all month.

The slumping Brooks scored 11 or fewer points in six straight games -- he was in single digits in five of them -- before scoring 22 against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

Brooks was just 34-of-120 shooting (28.3 percent) over the past eight games prior to Friday's strong outing.

"He's definitely back. It's a credit to all the work he's been putting in," Jenkins said of Brooks. "He's had a great mental state where he's competing his tail off on the defensive end, which has been great, especially when you are having a little bit of a slump offensively."

Memphis center Jonas Valanciunas collected a career-high 25 rebounds against the Kings, while point guard Ja Morant contributed 20 points and 11 assists.

--Field Level Media

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