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Scrappy unheralded Grizzlies make Lakers work for 123-120 victory

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When the Memphis Grizzlies took on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, April 12, it might not have meant much to most Grizzlies fans, but for one Make-a-Wish patient, it meant the world. He got the opportunity to see the Grizzlies’ facilities and sit courtside during warmups.

He met Taylor Jenkins and many of the Grizzlies players as they went through their pre-game shootaround. He met some of the Lakers and referees during the final minutes before the opening tip-off and even shot a few shots before the Grizzlies entered the court.

They played the Lakers until the very end, with the Lakers defeating the Grizzlies 123-120. The Grizzlies fall to 27-54. Jenkins on the game and the last 15 seconds said, “Great fight by our guys.”

To the delight of Lakers fans, LeBron James and Anthony Davis played against the Grizzlies. Memphis had 13 players listed on their injury report. The Lakers used a late 8-0 run to end the quarter and get separation from the Grizzlies (34-26). Davis led the Lakers with 13 points in the quarter. Jordan Goodwin had 11 points for the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies may have started the quarter down eight points, but they continued to battle with the Lakers for the entire second quarter. James had 11 points in the quarter. Jake LaRavia, fresh off his career-high scoring against Cleveland, had 17 points in the quarter. Memphis only trailed 68-64 in a high-scoring first half.

In the third quarter, the Grizzlies continued to play well. They led the Lakers by as many as nine points before Davis and James mounted a comeback. Davis and James scored 23 of the team’s 30 points in the third. The Lakers led the Grizzlies 98-97.

The fourth quarter had the feel of a playoff game as each team was trying to put the other away, but it wouldn’t happen. The Lakers took a three-point lead with 15.5 seconds left after two free throws from James. Memphis had a chance to tie the game, but a timeout advanced the ball, and a steal by James put the game on ice.

LeBron James doing LeBron things over the Memphis Grizzlies. (William Weeks/Tri-State Defender)

The Lakers (46-35) were carried by James and Davis. James had 37 points in 41 minutes of action, and Davis had 36 points and 14 rebounds in 42 minutes. The Lakers shot 34 free throws to the Grizzlies’ 21.

LeBron James takes it to the rack against the Memphis Grizzlies. That guy is 39 years old. (William Weeks/Tri-State Defender)

Pippen had a career-high 28 points and six assists. Goodwin also had a career night with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Jake LaRavia continued his hot scoring with 28 points. GG Jackson continued to lead the Grizzlies with 31 points.

Pippen played for the Lakers earlier this season. When asked if he had extra motivation against the Lakers, Pippen said, “Definitely there was extra motivation. You know, they cut me earlier this year, and I was going in there with a little chip on my shoulder, of course. I’m still cool with all those guys, but at the end of the day, they still cut me. So, there was definitely some motivation going into it.”

Jenkins on Goodwin’s play: “Luckily with Jordan [Goodwin], he just plays with his strengths. I thought he was great early in the game coming out, shooting the heck out of it from the 3-point line, making those winning plays. We couldn’t get the first shot to fall there in that first quarter, but to stay close to in the game, it was the second chance. He even got his own rebound one time, or got a rebound and backed it out, knocked down a three.”

Goodwin on his career night said, “I was just playing hard. Not looking at our records, but during the small details every day to get better. Crediting my teammates for passing me the ball.”

Jackson on the team’s competitiveness: “I showed how locked in we are. It was one of the best games that I have played in. The energy and the atmosphere and the intensity [with which] we played with [show] promise.”

On meeting the expectations he had coming into the season, Jackson said, “The only thing I wished I could have got was the Rookie of the Year in the G-League. I knew I wouldn’t be able to play the full season because I was with the Grizzlies. Other than that, it was a little wonky. It has been a crazy year. I hope I can continue to take these leaps and steps to help better my game and the people around me.”

The Memphis Grizzlies’ final game of the season is next. They face either a completely locked-in Denver Nuggets team or a weaker version of the Nuggets since the number one seed could be in the balance on Sunday. The game will tip-off at 2:30 on Sunday, April 14, at the FedExForum.

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