Did Jaren Jackson Jr. mimic a LeBron James celebration after hitting a clutch 3-pointer over James on Sunday night?
David Cobb, The Commercial Appeal
LOS ANGELES — The Grizzlies snapped a five-game losing streak in impressive fashion on Sunday at Staples Center.
Down three points entering the fourth quarter, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol took over, leading Memphis to a 107-99 win against a Los Angeles Lakers team that had won 10 of its last 11 home games.
The win ended a five-game losing streak for Memphis (17-16), which will return home for Christmas with a 1-3 record on a four-game West Coast road trip that tested the squad’s resolve.
“We played desperate,” Conley said. “We tried to do everything just a little bit harder than we’ve been doing it. Tonight it showed.”
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Conley and Gasol had a combined 18 points entering the fourth quarter. They finished with 17 apiece as the Grizzlies hit 8-of-10 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Rookie forward Jaren Jackson Jr. led all scorers with 27 points, including a clutch, 3-pointer over LeBron James to put the Grizzlies ahead eight points and seal the outcome in the final minute.
Jaren Jackson Jr. dominates
Jackson’s offensive output was his best of December. But he scored just three points in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies ran their offense through Gasol and Conley.
Still, Jackson played a major role, especially early, and logged 30 minutes in a game for just the second time this month.
His 14 first-quarter points were the most by a Grizzlies player in the opening quarter of a game this season, but he picked up his third foul after playing just four minutes in the second quarter and went to the bench.
He checked out midway through the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul.
Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff elected to close with Jackson on the floor over veteran JaMychal Green, and the decision paid off when Jackson iced the game with his late 3-pointer.
“With that size, length and speed, he’s a tough matchup, period,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s coming into his own, still trying to figure all this stuff out that’s going. But the skill set is unique.”
Dillon Brooks returns
Brooks left the Grizzlies’ win over the 76ers on Nov. 10 after his leg buckled under a basketball while he played defense. The bizarre sequence caused a grade II MCL sprain and an initial prognosis that Brooks would miss 6-8 weeks.
He needed only six. Brooks played 12 minutes off the bench for Memphis on Sunday, finishing with two points and two assists while showing some clear signs of rust.
With Dillon Brooks back, MarShon Brooks did not play for the second time in three games. Rookie point guard Jevon Carter also did not play after appearing in four straight games.
Who needs LeBron?
Playing without centers Tyson Chandler (back spasms) and Javale McGee (respiratory infection), the Lakers started 21-year-old Ivica Zubac for the second straight game.
He matched his season-high points total in the first half with 16 on 8-of-10 shooting while LeBron James scored just two points on 1-of-2 shooting in the first half.
Despite his offensive explosion, Zubac struggled to contain Memphis’ post players. As the game progressed, the Lakers’ attack involved a heavier dose of James.
James finished with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Zubac finished with 19.
Omri Casspi, Joakim Noah out
After scoring a season-high 20 points in a Monday loss at Golden State, Omri Casspi missed his third straight game with a stomach virus. His absence and the absence of Joakim Noah, who missed his third straight game with a heel injury, brought opportunity for Ivan Rabb.
The second-year forward scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 10 minutes.
The Grizzlies host Cleveland on Wednesday (7 p.m. Fox Sports Southeast) in the first meeting between the teams. The Cavaliers entered Sunday’s action tied for the NBA’s worst record.
Reach Grizzlies beat writer David Cobb at email@example.com or on Twitter @DavidWCobb.
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