MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Troy Daniels scored a career-high 31 points, and the Memphis Grizzlies hung on for a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night after Julius Randle missed all three free throws with 5.9 seconds left.
Lou Williams scored a season-best 40 points for the Lakers. Luol Deng added 18 and Timofy Mozgov finished with 13.
Memphis pulled away in a tight game with a 9-2 burst that erased a 95-94 Lakers lead in the final 5 minutes.
Williams converted a three-point play with 51 seconds remaining to pull the Lakers within one possession, and they had a chance to tie when Gasol fouled Randle on a 3-point attempt.
The youthful Lakers raced up the court, chasing a fast-break bucket against the Golden State Warriors. But Larry Nance Jr. remained near the rear of the pack, pacing himself, surveying everything before him, calculating space and angles, searching, most of all, for an open runway.
Throughout a game, the 23-year-old Lakers forward hopes for these moments, almost hunting them but not quite. He's learned that if he hunts too much, rarely do they unfold just the way he wants: culminating in a powerful, sky-scraping, momentum-shifting slam that blazes across social media and sends fans screaming out of their seats.
Above all, Nance, one of the NBA's highest and most exciting flyers, has learned patience. Most of the time, he doesn't have to seek these moments as they will often find him. He just needs to be in the right place at the right time and ready. When a shot goes up, for instance, Nance tracks its arc, then tries to position himself carefully among the rim's tall timbers so that he can snatch the ball if it ricochets. "Seven, eight times out of 10, I'm very certain of where it's coming off," he said.
Sometimes an opponent will try to box him out, then turn to look at Nance and notice that Nance doesn't seem to be going anywhere. If the opponent falls for this ruse, they will turn away and go chase the rebound. "And that's when you crash right on top of them," Nance says. Thus, the simple but effective formula for his signature putback dunks: lure prey into a false sense of security, then strike.
The Los Angeles Lakers playing on Christmas has almost become as synonymous as Kobe Bryant playing for the Lakers. But now that the Black Mamba has retired, he won't be taking the court Dec. 25 as the Lakers participate in their 16th consecutive Christmas game.
That hasn't stopped Bryant, who played in an NBA-record 16 Christmas contests, from reveling in the holiday spirit.
On Friday, the future Hall of Famer unveiled an "ugly holiday sweater" that he is promoting to benefit the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which provides financial resources and programming to strengthen communities through educational and cultural enrichment opportunities.
Available in purple or black, the sweater features a rendering of Bryant in a Santa Claus costume holding a bag with a basketball under the heading "Merry Swish-mas." Candy canes, Christmas trees and additional basketballs dot the background of the design.
There is also an option to toggle between 8 and 24 in regard to Bryant's number on the $40 sweater, which is only available for purchase until Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Bryant scored a total of 395 points on Christmas, an NBA record.
-- Nick Ostiller
The Toronto point guard tied his season high for 3-pointers, going 6 of 9 from beyond the arc as the Raptors beat the Lakers for the fourth straight time with their biggest win of the season. The 33-point victory surpassed the 27-point win over Philadelphia on Oct. 28.
Buoyed by the 22-point lead they carried into the fourth quarter, the Raptors could afford to empty their bench, with 11 of 12 players seeing action in the victory, with little-used Bruno Caboclo scoring his first points of the season on a 3-pointer with 1:17 to go.
In the summer of 1996, Shaquille O'Neal left the Magic to sign a $120 million Lakers contract, and bought a house in the opulent hills overlooking Beverly Hills. A few months later he and his uncle Mike hopped in the car for a drive across L.A., to Watts.
It's about an hour drive, but feels so far from the winding tree-lined hills of Mulholland Drive.
Shaq had thoughtfully chosen a community center there to reprise his role as Shaq-a-Claus. He told uncle Mike it was his favorite day of the year, and it was full of taking holiday orders from delighted kids. One by one, they eagerly revealed their wishes: a bicycle, the top-selling Mario video game, a Tickle Me Elmo, the new Cabbage Patch dolls which were selling out as soon as they hit the shelves.
He said yes to them all and promised Shaq-a-Claus would deliver the gifts two days before Christmas. Mission accomplished. Except ... as he turned to go, Shaq noticed one little boy who hadn't come forward.
Concerned that his large stature had frightened the child, Shaq bent down on one knee, placed his massive hand on his tiny shoulder and asked, "What do you want, little man?"
"I don't think you can help me,'' he answered softly.
"I bet I can,'' Shaq persisted. "You know, I'm pretty good friends with Santa.''
"What I really want," said the boy, "is for it to snow." He was quiet for a moment before explaining that he shared his Christmas wish with his mother. She sighed, hugged him close to her, and then told him, "I'm sorry, baby. It doesn't snow in Los Angeles, and we're stuck here.''
As Shaq and his uncle drove back toward the manicured lawns and the palm trees in his exclusive neighborhood, O'Neal was mostly silent. In fact, he didn't say anything until they turned into his driveway and he blurted out suddenly, "They ski in California, right?" Shaq-a-Claus had an idea.
Lakers' Brandon Ingram thankful for Jerry Stackhouse's influence: Brandon Ingram was in fourth grade when he met Jerry Stackhouse. A two-time All-Star who spent 18 seasons in the NBA, Stackhouse returned to Kinston, N.C., nearly every offseason to work with the youth in his hometown. Ingram developed an early bond with Stackhouse and joined his Atlanta-based AAU-program several years later. He learned a variety of skills through pick-up games and film study, watching hours of footage of his mentor. -- The Orange County Register
Some Lakers already touting Lou Williams for NBA's Sixth Man of the Year: The Lakers are inspired by his leadership, appreciate his consistency and admire his ability to draws fouls when it matters most. Those are some of the attributes Lou Williams’ teammates point to when they talk about how he could win this season’s NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. -- The Orange County Register
Lakers' Lou Williams has a knack for getting to the line: During his rookie year, Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell took note of veteran guard Lou Williams’ most infuriating and reliable skill. That ability to get to the free-throw line, that skill that amused his teammates and frustrated opponents. So Russell studied film of Williams drawing fouls, then he asked for suggestions. -- Los Angeles Times