May 26, 2024

On one end, you had the Lakers fumbling their way through the game like someone waking up in a strange, dark room with no idea how to flip on the lights.

And on the other end, you had the team the Lakers battled in the first round of the playoffs — all in their street clothes watching a collection of young players, others on 10-day contracts and G Leaguers threaten any shot the Lakers have to move up from 10th place in the Western Conference standings.

In all the combinations and permutations that would decide the Lakers’ play-in future, Friday night in Memphis was the gimme.

The Grizzlies had lost their last three games by a total of 47 points, their regulars either injured or shut down for the season. Thirteen different players were inactive. No one who played for Memphis on Friday touched the court last year for the Grizzlies in the playoffs.

Yet the Lakers got caught, their hands down at their waists, the Grizzlies’ repeated jabs to the chin staggering the team with everything to play for.

The Lakers eventually found the switch, and LeBron James flipping it with six straight points to help the Lakers survive 123-120.

Needing one last final stop, the Lakers and Grizzlies scrambled for a loose ball, with James intercepting a pass while streaking the other way at full speed. He punctuated the game with a two-handed reverse slam.

The Lakers now wait for other results in the West to learn their standing heading into Sunday’s finale in New Orleans.

James scored 37, Davis returning from his eye injury had 36 points and 14 rebounds while Rui Hachimura added 14 points.

Memphis rookie GG Jackson scored 31 and made seven threes, his chance at a go-ahead three for No. 8 late rattling out.

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