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HomeSportsBasketballLakers set for 'dog fight' in possible closeout of Grizzlies

Lakers set for ‘dog fight’ in possible closeout of Grizzlies

LeBron James dressed slowly at his locker late Monday night after an exhausting and exhilarating effort during the Lakers’ thrilling Game 4 overtime defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies at Crypto.com Arena.

Anthony Davis eased off the podium after his postgame interview that night and limped down the hallway, the pain in his right hip evident with each step, and yet he had a smile on his face because the Lakers opened a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series and are one win from advancing.

Whether mental or physical, James and Davis will ask more out of their psyches and bodies because they are the ones the Lakers will lean on to carry them past the Grizzlies in this Game 5 closeout opportunity Wednesday night at the FedEx Forum.

How much more James can exact out of his 38-year-old body after playing a team-high 45 1/2 minutes probably will determine the Lakers’ chances.

“He’s feeling it, man,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. “But at the end of the day, he’s in great shape. It’s more fatigue than anything that’s bothering him physically. And that’s a huge difference. He can re-energize. Obviously, he’s had his issue with his foot, but where he’s at right now, he’s probably the best, one of the best, for sure the best of his generation, in terms of taking care of his body, understanding what his body needs, what he has to do at this time of the year in between games to be available and available at a high level.”

James, who was listed on the Lakers’ injury report as probable with right foot soreness, had a career night for the Lakers with 22 points and 20 rebounds, the most he’s had, whether in the playoffs or the regular season. He authored the first 20/20 playoff game by a Laker since Shaquille O’Neal in the 2004 NBA Finals.

“You just dig deep and understand that you’ll be able to sleep at some point,” James said Monday night. “Just not right now. This is not the time to rest or forget about an assignment. You’ll have more than enough time after the game and the next day to kind of rest and try to decompress as much as possible.”

Davis has been dealing with the hip issue for some time, but he powered through 41:55 of action and a tough shooting night, doing his part with 12 points on four-for-13 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

“He’s got it bumped a little bit,” Ham said. “Those things on your hip, whether it’s a hip pointer or it’s some type of bruise, it’s not going to hinder you. It’s not an injury, so to speak. It’s just an area that’s hurt, irritated and he’s all for it. He’s going to push through like he did last night, getting it treated. Got it treated a little bit this morning on the plane. It’s going to continue all the way up to game time. So, I’m not worried about him. He’ll be ready to go. He assured me of that.”

Davis was listed on the Lakers’ injury report as probable with a right foot stress injury, but it’s the hip that is the bigger issue.

“It’s been bothering me probably like a week-and-a-half now,” Davis said Monday night. “But there was no way I was coming out. Just tried to give whatever I could to the team. I’ll be fine, though. We do what we’re supposed to Wednesday, then I get a couple of days to let it calm down and get back to normal. But take care of it tonight, tomorrow, and then get ready for Wednesday’s game.”

The Lakers entered this series as the underdogs, a seventh seed that had to win a play-in game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to face the second-seeded Grizzlies.

The Lakers now stand one win from going to the second round in the Western Conference playoffs.

Even though they have a 3-1 lead, knowing that teams with that advantage have won the series 95.2% of the time, the Lakers understand it won’t be easy knocking out the Grizzlies.

“I don’t want to say the fear of failure, but the refusal to fail causes them to play and compete at a high level harder. Especially a team like this,” Ham said of Memphis. “When you’re in a situation where, through my travels in the postseason of the NBA as a player and a coach, it’s different when it’s a lower seed that has a grip on the series over a higher seed than vice-versa. But in this specific situation, Memphis, they have a lot of pride, they have a lot of talent. … So, those guys are going to come out like gangbusters. …

“They are going to come out ready to throw everything at us, including the kitchen sink at us, to prevent this thing from ending. And then also you factor in that they are on their home floor. So, what we got to do, we got to go out and just meet force with force, come out and do the little things, the intangible things. … It’s going to be a dog fight.”



This story originally appeared on LA Times

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