It’s coming down to the wire for the Memphis Grizzlies, who are still fighting for a Western Conference playoff berth.
While a crucial matchup in the desert looms, the visiting Grizzlies will first try to get by the last-place Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.
Memphis (47-32) is seeking a third straight win after knocking off Miami 107-102 on Wednesday and rolling past lowly Philadelphia 117-95 on Friday. Marc Gasol had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Grizzlies moved into an eighth-place tie with Phoenix after the Suns fell at San Antonio.
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"It was not an easy game to play," said coach Dave Joerger, whose team shot 54.3 percent. "We have one eye on next week, but we know that every single game is a must-win game for us. Our focus was really good."
The Grizzlies and Suns are left to battle for the final playoff spot in the West after Dallas clinched a postseason berth with a 101-98 victory over Phoenix on Saturday. Memphis, which owns the tiebreaker over the Suns after taking each of the first three meetings, own a one-half game lead and visits Phoenix on Monday before hosting the Mavericks in Wednesday’s regular-season finale.
"At the end of the day, you depend on yourself," Gasol said. "That’s all you want at this point in the season, to be under your control."
The Grizzlies have averaged 103.2 points and allowed 92.5 during a team record-tying 13-game home winning streak, but they haven’t been nearly as formidable on the road. Memphis has dropped four of five away from home, a stretch during which it’s scored 93.0 points per game while surrendering 102.2.
The Grizzlies are 19-4 as the visiting team when giving up 93 points or fewer compared to 2-14 when they don’t.
Memphis has taken five of seven from Los Angeles, including two of three this season. Their lone defeat came 96-92 on Dec. 17 with Gasol and Mike Conley on the sidelines.
"Just do the little stuff," Lakers guard Jodie Meeks said of trying to beat the Grizzlies. "Can’t fall asleep on defense. We have to take good shots and execute our offense a little bit better if we want to have a chance."
The Lakers (25-54) just set the single-season franchise record for losses with Friday’s 112-95 defeat to Golden State. The 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers went 19-53 their 72-game season.
"All we can do is keep playing," said Meeks, who scored 10 points while shooting 2 of 12. "Nobody in this locker room is giving up."
The Lakers have surrendered an average of 119.2 points in dropping each of their six games this month and are 4-15 since March 4. Nick Young, averaging 24.3 points over the last six, stayed hot with 25 on Friday and Jordan Hill added 18 to go with 12 rebounds.
"(We’re) hanging in there a little bit," coach Mike D’Antoni said. "But again, they’re up against some tough odds right now. You can feel it, and it’s a little deflating, but (we’ll) try to get it on Sunday."
The Grizzlies are looking to beat the Lakers twice on the road in the same season for just the second time, having done it in 2005-06.