After a rocky start to the season, LeBron James and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers began to find their footing and show glimpses of the team many expected they could be come April. No more evident was that than with a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas.
But just as quickly as the Lakers were on the rise at that point, has come a downward spiral. Injuries to James and Rajon Rondo resulted in prolonged absences for both veterans and uneven play from the Lakers.
James and Rondo returning did little stabilize the team, as they went into the All-Star break on a 2-4 slide. Their unofficial first half of the season ended with an inexcusable loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Although the Lakers came out of the break with an impressive comeback win against the Houston Rockets, they followed it by falling to a New Orleans Pelicans team that rested Anthony Davis. Given their own trouble, James said the Lakers can’t afford to take the Memphis Grizzlies or any opponent for granted, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
LeBron was asked is LAL has to guard against complacency when facing a struggling MEM team and stated the uncomfortable truth about his team: "Nah, s—, we’re struggling. We can’t be looking past nobody. We struggling, too. We don’t have the privilege of looking past anybody"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 25, 2019
The Grizzlies enter Monday’s matchup with the Lakers at 23-38, on a four-game losing streak and having dropped seven of their last 10.
The Lakers and Grizzlies split their first two meetings this season, with each team winning on the other’s home floor. Memphis’ victory was the most recent, a 107-99 win at Staples Center two days before Christmas to snap a five-game losing skid.
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