The Memphis Grizzlies got a mental boost as well as one in the standings with a thrilling win over their closest pursuer in the Southwest Division.
They’ll try to keep heading in the right direction by ending a rare home losing streak Friday night with a victory over the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
Memphis (43-17) had dropped three of four and allowed Houston to get within 1 1/2 games in the division before a 102-100 road win over the Rockets on Wednesday. Marc Gasol provided the winning shot with 0.1 seconds left and finished with a team-best 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting.
Zach Randolph contributed 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists after missing Tuesday’s 93-82 loss to Utah because of an illness.
"It was huge for us mentally because we hadn’t been playing to our level of expectations," point guard Mike Conley said. "We’ve lost some games in the past few weeks that we feel like we shouldn’t have lost. To lose (Tuesday) night in Utah and to beat a very good team in Houston that we know is going to be there in the playoff standings, it means a lot."
Conley was 6 of 9 from the field for 17 points after shooting a combined 30.6 percent during the team’s 1-3 slump.
The Grizzlies will next try to avoid a third straight home defeat. The only other time they’ve lost consecutive games in Memphis since the beginning of 2014 was a three-game skid Dec. 19-26.
A visit from the Lakers (16-44), losers in 13 of 14 on the road, would appear to provide a great opportunity to end the current skid. Memphis has won five straight over Los Angeles for its longest winning streak in the history of this series.
The three matchups this season, though, have been fairly competitive with those games decided by a combined 14 points. Most recently, Memphis came away with a 109-106 victory Jan. 2 when now-injured Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant missed a 3-pointer as time expired. The Grizzlies’ last two home wins in the series have been decided by five points apiece.
Los Angeles is heading into this visit having lost three in a row, including an 0-2 start to a season-high five-game trip. The Lakers led Miami by three with 4 1/2 minutes remaining Wednesday but were outscored 15-6 down the stretch in a 100-94 loss.
The Lakers’ last three defeats have been by an average of 4.7 points.
"We gave ourselves an opportunity again, put ourselves in a position, but at the end of the day, we didn’t take care of business," coach Byron Scott said. "… The end, as I told the guys, that’s been killing us all season long."
Jeremy Lin had 12 points after scoring a combined 43 in his prior two games. He had 20 points in the most recent game against Memphis and has averaged 15.3 while shooting 54.8 percent in the three meetings this season.
Conley is averaging 21.3 points in his past four games against the Lakers.
It’s unclear if Los Angeles’ Nick Young will return after missing the last five games with a sore knee.