Dennis Schröder the hero as Lakers end Grizzlies’ 11-game winning streak in thriller


Lakers guard Dennis Schröder, left, controls the ball during the second half of the Lakers’ 122-121 comeback victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at the Arena on Friday. Schröder scored the winning basket in the final seconds from a steal. (Ashley Landis / The Bharat Express News)

Dennis Schröder snuck in from the back, knocked the ball loose and got the tail—arguably the Lakers’ biggest stop of the season.

The layup and subsequent free throw – those were perhaps even bigger.

Hands down and, well, just short against the towering Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers absorbed every push from one of the best teams in the West.

But they never saved. And when a possible Brandon Clarke tying free throw bounced off the rim, the Lakers did the unlikely.

Somehow, on a night when LeBron James was struggling and the Grizzlies seemingly grabbed every possible rebound, the Lakers left the floor victorious, beating Memphis 122-121 and ending their 11-game winning streak .

“A great game,” said Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

The win caps off an eventful home stretch that saw the Lakers lose close games to Dallas, Philadelphia and Sacramento while playing without Anthony Davis, Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves.

The only other win was against Houston.

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“We showed what we can be and what we can do,” Ham said.

But Friday’s game encapsulated so much of Ham’s message from the past eight days: keep working, keep fighting and a breakthrough will come.

Russell Westbrook scored 29, James fought for 23, and Schröder finished with 19, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Memphis got 22 points from Ja Morant, but he needed 29 shots – the Lakers held him off trying to tie the game while Westbrook defended.

“I know I’m a really good defender,” said Westbrook.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook attempts to pass center Memphis Grizzlies Steven Adams.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook tries to pass for Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams, left, during Friday’s first half. (Harry Hoe / Getty Images)

The win comes because more good news could be on the way.

The Lakers can pretend to hold back, try to take some of the pressure off of a timeline and limit the chance of disappointment if there’s a setback.

But all signs continued to point to an eventual return for Davis next week – a crucial step for the organization trying to sort out its future.

According to sources with knowledge of the plan, if Davis remained pain-free during his rehabilitation from a trio of foot ailments, Davis would return to court in Los Angeles next week before the Lakers depart for a five-game trip against the Celtics. Nets, Knicks, Pacers and Pelicans.

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The Lakers have not publicly set a timetable for Davis’s return.

When he returns, the Lakers will have a critical point to make up, good teams coming onto the Lakers’ home court and leaving with narrow wins. But Friday’s win over the Grizzlies showed the Lakers could overcome the bump against top competition.

The Lakers stuck with the Grizzlies after Memphis broke out after a super-slow first quarter, but the NBA’s best defense smothered the Lakers and made every basket feel deserved.

Without Davis, Memphis feasted on the offensive glass and defeated the Lakers 39-22 on rematch points.

It could have – probably could have – been a loss. Instead, it meant momentum.

Davis has missed 18 games with a combination of foot injuries including a bone spur and a stress reaction in his right foot. Before his injury, he averaged 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks. Without Davis this season, the Lakers are 9-12.

Pregame, Ham would not provide details on Davis’s recovery plan other than that he scheduled a “1-on-0 workout” on Saturday.

“He’s responded well. Very well,” Ham said pregame. “He’s progressing as expected with the plan that’s been put in place and he’s evolving in the right direction.”

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Getting Davis back — and keeping him on the field — should give the Lakers clarity as they head toward the Feb. 9 trade TBEN to figure out just how aggressive they need to be.

“We have maintained throughout the process that there is no timeline.” Ham said pregame. “And we just throw different things at him.”

The Lakers should have news about Walker IV soon as his knee is reassessed on Saturday. Reaves, who is out with a hamstring injury, should be reassessed in a week, Ham said, saying Walker is closer to a return.

The Lakers and Grizzlies played a physical basketball half that nearly stretched to the half. Grizzlies players faced former NFL tight end and TBEN Sports host Shannon Sharpe at halftime. Sharpe then had a falling out with Tee Morant, Ja Morant’s father.

Sharpe was escorted to the rear by security before returning to his court seat for the second half. Tee Morant and Sharpe embraced before the start of the fourth quarter.

The fight on the field, especially on the stretch, was even fiercer – the Lakers were outsized and outmaneuvered as they clawed for every single loose ball.

And when they needed it most – a stop and finally a win – they managed to do it.

“You don’t know you can unless you can,” said Ham. “…It does a lot for our spirits, our mindsets and our togetherness.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.


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