Associated Press

Lakers hold off Grizzlies 107-100, snap 4-game skid

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LOS ANGELES (AP) One last time, Kobe Bryant backed down Tony Allen, talked friendly trash with Matt Barnes and reminisced with old AAU teammate Vince Carter.

By the final minutes, Kobe was watching them all from the bench while the young Los Angeles Lakers closed out an unlikely win.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points, Brandon Bass got eight of his 18 in the fourth quarter and the Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 107-100 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

Bryant scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, but the superstar sat out the final 4:20 because coach Byron Scott wanted “to see what these guys can do.”

Bryant was curious himself, and he wasn’t disappointed.

“I thought they played hard,” Bryant said of the young group. “I think it’s time for them to make that jump. Now it’s time to really lock in on those details.”

Even with D'Angelo Russell sidelined by a bruised shin, Clarkson led Los Angeles smoothly past the playoff-bound Grizzlies, who had won the clubs’ first three meetings of the season. The Western Conference-worst Lakers wrapped up an eight-game homestand with three wins, beating contenders Golden State and Memphis.

“We were moving the ball, but a lot of it started on the defensive end,” Clarkson said. “We just stuck to the game plan.”

Data curated by PointAfter

Allen made all 12 of his shots while scoring 27 points for the Grizzlies, who rallied to win in Phoenix on Monday night.

“It was one those games where they took advantage of us coming off a back-to-back, but no excuses,” Allen said. “That team played hard. They were all over the place, getting second-chance points. We turned the ball over and they scored off our turnovers. They played with a little more energy than us. They outhustled us and had a little more pep in their step. They’re a young, talented group, and they’re the future of the NBA.”

Zach Randolph and Lance Stephenson added 16 points apiece for the Grizzlies.

“It’s a game that we needed, and we didn’t win,” said Carter, who had four points. “They had more energy than us. I don’t know what they’re playing for, but I know what we’re playing for.”

KOBE’S GUYS

Bryant suited up for the fourth time in Los Angeles’ last 10 games, and he appeared to be in a good mood throughout his final showdown with several old friends.

Kobe recently called Allen the toughest defender he faced in his 20-year NBA career, and Carter was among his early inspirations to work hard. Bryant’s long-standing connections with them explained why he’ll attempt to play back-to-back games with his sore shoulder instead of sitting out this one before Wednesday’s game in Phoenix.

“My shoulder feels great,” Bryant said. “I didn’t have any aches or pains.”

Bryant said he still intends to play in his Phoenix farewell.

D’ANGELO DOWN

Russell had 11 points in 22 minutes before sitting out the final 1 1/2 quarters. The rookie No. 2 overall pick went down in pain in the first half after a leg-on-leg collision with JaMychal Green, but he played in the third quarter before shutting it down.

NO JUSTICE, NO WORLD PEACE

Metta World Peace was ejected early in the fourth quarter when he wouldn’t stop complaining about the lack of a foul call when Vince Carter tied him up for a jump ball. The former Ron Artest has a monumental history of on-court misbehaviors, but it was his first ejection of the season. The Grizzlies got the chance to choose the Lakers player who had to enter the game to take World Peace’s spot on the jump ball, and they grinningly chose Kobe, who lost the tip.

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Longtime Lakers G Jordan Farmar had eight points and five assists in his second game with Memphis, which signed the Los Angeles native and UCLA product to a 10-day contract. … Stephenson scored five points in 1.5 seconds late in the third quarter with two free throws, a quick steal and a three-point play. … Mike Conley missed his 10th straight game with tendinitis, and P.J. Hairston missed his fifth straight game with a strained groin.

Lakers: Rookie F Larry Nance Jr. sat out as part of the team’s strategy to rest his sore knees during back-to-back sets. He is expected to play Wednesday in Phoenix. … Russell is questionable to play in Phoenix, the team said.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: At Spurs on Friday.

Lakers: At Suns on Wednesday.

Rudy Gobert says France’s bronze medal ‘means everything’

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Some countries, like the United States, don’t really care about the World Cup. The 2019 FIBA World Cup in China was perhaps evidence of that, with Team USA not even bothering to medal.

For countries like France and players like Rudy Gobert, the World Cup is a chance to show that their nation is one that is coming forth as a place to be reckoned with when it comes to basketball development.

France recently took home third place in the 2019 Cup, and for that the Utah Jazz center was grateful. Speaking to reporters after their win over Australia, Gobert said that grabbing the bronze “means everything” to him and to France.

Via Twitter:

That’s some pretty moving stuff from a guy in Gobert who we know is someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve.

Bernie Sanders says LeBron James is the GOAT over Michael Jordan (VIDEO)

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Everyone has an opinion about who is the greatest player of all time between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Most folks still seem to pick Jordan, although it’s been hard to argue with the type of player that James is in a vacuum outside of measurements like championship rings.

In any case, we now have one more person who has tossed their opinion into the ring of public consciousness. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has now said that he believes that LeBron is the GOAT thanks to his public service.

Via Twitter:

“I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.”

James has certainly done a lot politically, socially, and as an activist. He’s supported things like entire schools, and he’s been on the bleeding edge of NBA activism against things like police brutality.

Jordan has also done his part, including a recent pledge for $1 million in funds to aid Bahamanian hurricane relief. Folks like to bag on MJ for his purported “Republicans buy sneakers, too” comment, but it’s unclear whether he actually ever said or felt that.

In either case, it appears that we know who Sanders thinks is the GOAT. Next someone should ask Elizabeth Warren if she would have taken Kobe or Shaq in 2004.

Watch Zion Williamson snap the head off a golf club (VIDEO)

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As any good golfer can tell you, the key to getting a pure ball flight is figuring out the idea of compression. Instead of scooping the ball off the ground, the idea is to hit the ball first and use the ground to compress the dimpled object between the earth and the clubface.

And while New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson probably isn’t concentrating on his golf game heading into his first NBA season, it looks like the idea of compression isn’t lost on him.

As the Pelicans held a golf event this week, Williamson was filmed snapping the head off of an iron while taking a shot off the tee box.

Via Twitter:

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like Williamson has a pretty solid swing. I’m extremely jealous of the amount of lag he has at the return parallel position on the downswing.

Someone get this guy a stiffer shaft or something. I can only imagine the kind of havoc Williamson is going to inflict on NBA rims this year if this is how the man golfs.

James Harden on Russell Westbrook pairing: ‘We’ll figure it out’

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There has been some doubt that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be able to fit together with the Houston Rockets this season. Both players have matured quite a bit since their time together in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, and now there are real questions about Westbrook’s ability to fit next to just about anyone.

Like Westbrook, Harden is a ball-dominant guard, and we still don’t know the long-term plan for Coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston has real championship hopes, but they could also look much different in a year or two.

Still, Harden and Westbrook have known each other since they were 10 years old. They grew up together in Los Angeles, and are at least very good friends. To that end, Harden says that he believes they will be able to figure it out even if the first year together has bumps along the way.

Via GQ:

It’s like, yo, we’ll figure it out. Everything isn’t necessarily going to be smooth at first, there are going to be ups and downs, and that’s part of an 82-game season. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ve caught a rhythm and everybody is on the same page going into the playoffs. That’s all you can ask for.

That’s a pretty reasonable outlook to have at this juncture. The NBA is constantly changing, and it’s possible that these two guys could have such a personal connection that their on-court conflicts end up being negligible.

It’s another new era in Houston as they try to capitalize on the Golden State Warriors’ injury issues.