Lakers, Grizz looking to bounce back
One team and one player looking to put embarrassing performances in the rear-view mirror go head-to-head Saturday night when the Memphis Grizzlies host Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers in Memphis, Tenn.
The Grizzlies are coming off a historically bad outing at Charlotte, having lost 140-79.
The 61-point margin of defeat was the highest in the NBA in 20 years and the highest in Grizzlies franchise history.
"They were out there just laughing," Memphis guard Tyreke Evans observed of the Hornets. "It was embarrassing. The whole thing. We've got to just wash this one away and just come back next game and be ready to play."
The Grizzlies did exactly that the last time they played a home game. They lost 19 in a row before shocking playoff-contending Denver 101-94 last Saturday.
They have lost three in a row on the road since and find themselves battling Phoenix for the worst record in the league with 10 games remaining.
Memphis fans will get their first opportunity to see Ball on Saturday night. He was out with a knee injury when the Lakers were beaten 123-114 the last time they visited Memphis in January.
Ball is fine physically, but his ego might be a bit bruised following a 2-for-15 shooting night in Thursday's 128-125 loss at New Orleans.
The Pelicans' game plan was to let the one-year UCLA standout shoot from the perimeter, and it worked. Ball missed 11 of his 12 3-point shots, many of which were uncontested.
"I knew they were going to leave me open," Ball said afterward. "I was telling (coach Luke Walton): 'Give me the ball, I'm gonna shoot them.' Unfortunately, I didn't make them."
Ball has made only 7 of 47 on 3-point shots (14.9 percent) in his last seven games, lowering his season percentage to 30.5, the fifth-worst in the NBA among players who have attempted at least 200.
Only 17 players in NBA history have ever attempted 300 or more 3-pointers in a season and made fewer than 30 percent. Lakers great Kobe Bryant is one of them (28.5 percent in 2016).
Ball is 87 for 285 this season.
Despite the poor shooting, the 20-year-old played well enough at New Orleans to be on the court for 44 minutes. He contributed 13 rebounds and nine assists to the Lakers' competitive effort.
Los Angeles has lost four in a row, including its first two stops on a four-game trip.
The Lakers' next loss will be their 41st, assuring a fifth consecutive non-winning season. Since moving west from Minneapolis in 1960, the Lakers had never had more than two straight losing seasons until their current skid.
Los Angeles would need to win 10 of its final 11 games to avoid another losing season.
Memphis needs four wins in its final 10 games to avoid the franchise's first 60-loss season since 2008.
If there's reason for optimism for the Grizzlies, it's that they've played some of their better ball against the Lakers this season, winning two of the three matchups.
All 10 Grizzlies who got into the Jan. 15 home win over the Lakers scored at least seven points, with eight reaching double figures in the balanced effort.
Updated March 23, 2018