LOS ANGELES — Crucial contributions from their reserves allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to squeak past the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Point guard Mike Conley scored 19 points, handed out nine assists and grabbed six rebounds, leading the Grizzlies to a 109-106 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center.
Center Marc Gasol added 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as the Grizzlies (24-8), who also benefitted from some missed opportunities late by the Lakers, won their third in a row.
Memphis also shook off some first-half shooting woes and stopped Los Angeles when it mattered most. The reserves, though, were the key, Conley said. Backup point guard Beno Udrih scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter, when the Grizzlies seized control, forward Tayshaun Prince scored 12 and center Kosta Koufos added nine points and eight rebounds.
“I think we started making a few shots,” said Conley who made five of 13 from the floor, including three of five 3-pointers. “We started getting the stops we wanted to get early in the third quarter. I think our second unit that came in, Beno, Kosta and Tayshaun, those guys really gave us a lift scoring-wise.”
Backup point guard Jeremy Lin and forward Ed Davis scored 20 each to lead the Lakers (10-23), who lost for the fourth time in five games. Davis, who also had eight rebounds and two blocks against his former club, missed a free throw with 2.8 seconds remaining that would have tied the score.
“I take credit for it. I didn’t make the free throw,” said Davis, who converted seven of nine shots from the field and six of eight from the line. “A lot of things could of happened in the game, but the second (free throw) definitely hurt me against a team … if I could make a one-and-one all year, it would have been against them.”
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, misfired on a 3-pointer at the buzzer would have forced overtime.
“I was surprised that I got that good of a look,” said Bryant, who hit six of 14 shots and two of four 3-pointers. “It’s a tough shot. My main concern was trying to get it off in time and give myself a chance.”
Said Conley, “We got lucky. We got lucky (Bryant) missed it. It looked good from my standpoint.”
Consecutive buckets by Davis cut the Lakers’ deficit to 102-100 with 2:33 remaining. After Bryant missed a jumper, forward Quincy Pondexter’s tip-in with 1:22 left gave Memphis a four-point lead.
Davis sliced the margin to two again with a bucket inside, but Prince’s floater made it 106-102 for Memphis with 42.2 seconds remaining. Bryant’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to one, then Conley missed one of two free throws with 12.6 seconds left, leaving Memphis clinging to a 107-105 lead. Two foul shots by guard Courtney Lee, who had 14 points, with 0.6 seconds provided the final margin for Memphis.
Lin and Davis provided some first-half offensive punch, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively, and helping the Lakers earn a 52-47 advantage at the break. They also combined to hit nine of 13 shots from the floor as the Lakers outshot the Grizzlies 53.7 percent to 39.1 percent. Overall, Los Angeles shot 53.1 percent (22 of 41) to 48.8 percent (41 of 84) for Memphis, but still came up short.
Udrih led the Grizzlies’ rally in the third quarter by outscoring the Lakers 33-25 for an 80-77 lead to end the third. He consistently was able to drive past Lin and nailed all four of his second-half field goals.
“Beno was awesome for us,” Conley said.
Udrih said he was just being aggressive.
“We got a couple of wide-open shots and I took advantage of it and knocked them down,” Udrih said.
Reserve guard Nick Young and forward Carlos Boozer had 14 points apiece for Los Angeles. The Lakers’ reserves outscored Memphis 57-47.
Memphis forward Zach Randolph missed his sixth straight game with a sore right knee.
NOTES: Lakers coach Byron Scott called Grizzlies PG Mike Conley the most “underrated point guard” in the league. “Mike is just a terrific basketball player, and each year he has gotten better as well,” said Scott, who added that Conley should receive serious consideration for the NBA All-Star team despite the quantity of quality point guards in the Western Conference. “He does everything well on both sides of the floor. He just doesn’t do it with a whole lot of fanfare.” … Lakers F Ryan Kelly returned after missing the last 22 games with a torn right hamstring. He had two points and two rebounds in 10 minutes. … Memphis caps its two-game road trip against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. … Los Angeles hosts the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
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