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Grizzlies top slumping Lakers; Magic edge Nuggets

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Memphis Grizzlies surged past the floundering Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Jan. 5, drilling 23 three-pointers to hand LeBron James and company their fourth straight NBA defeat, 127-113.

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Marcus Smart of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts as he is fouled on his drive to the basket by Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 127-113 Grizzlies win at Crypto.com Arena on Friday, Jan. 5, in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)

Marcus Smart made a season-high eight three-pointers on the way to 29 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. connected on five from beyond the arc as he scored 31.

The Grizzlies, who entered the contest as the worst-shooting team in the league, notched only their second victory in six games.

Desmond Bane scored 24 points and handed out 13 assists, Ja Morant scored 21 and Ziaire Williams added 10 of his 15 in the fourth quarter, when the Grizzlies out-scored the Lakers 33-19 to pull away.

James scored 32 points and Anthony Davis added 31, but the Lakers suffered their 10th defeat in 13 games, unable to take advantage of 19 Grizzlies turnovers.

James started strong, making four of four three-point attempts in the first quarter on the way to 14 points. But he and the rest of the Lakers couldn’t match the Grizzlies’ energy in the second half.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham, who found himself fielding questions about his job security before the contest, said there was nothing for the Lakers to do but fight through it.

“It’s a disappointing loss, but we can’t get discouraged,” he said. “I’m disappointed that we’ve lost multiple games now in a row, but it’s only going to make that fire bigger in my chest to try to figure this thing out.

“That was my message to the team after the game,” Ham added. “We’ve got to fight. We’re going to figure this thing out.”

Elsewhere, conference leaders Boston and Minnesota notched bounce-back victories while in Denver, Paolo Banchero recorded his first career triple-double and drilled the game-winning free-throws in the waning seconds of the Orlando Magic’s 122-120 victory over the reigning champion Nuggets.

Banchero made four free throws in the last 34.6 seconds to seal the Magic’s comeback from an 18-point third-quarter deficit, finishing with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Jamal Murray missed a chance to tie it at the buzzer for the Nuggets, who were coming off their own last-gasp, come-from-behind win over Golden State on Thursday courtesy of Nikola Jokic’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

Jokic led Denver with 29 points. Michael Porter Jr. added 22, but the Nuggets looked weary on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Warriors, meanwhile, rebounded from their loss to Denver with a 113-109 victory over the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Stephen Curry scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to help Golden State avoid another gut-wrenching defeat.

The Pistons, seeking just their fourth win this season, had kept it close and took a 103-102 lead on Bojan Bogdanovic’s three-pointer with 1:41 to play.

Curry answered with a pair of free throws and two three-pointers and the Warriors held on for the win.

Celtics silence Jazz

In Boston, the Eastern Conference leading Celtics used suffocating defense and 17 three-pointers to beat the Utah Jazz 126-97.

Jayson Tatum scored 30 points, Kristaps Porzingis added 19 and Jrue Holiday chipped in 14 in the wire-to-wire victory over a Jazz team that had won nine of their previous 12 games.

Boston, whose six-game winning streak was snapped in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, set the tone early, jumping to a 10-0 lead.

After Porzingis drilled a three-pointer to make it 18-8 midway through the first quarter the Jazz wouldn’t get the deficit to single digits again.

“Tonight’s game was about taking away their speed with our physicality and off-ball defense, and I thought we did that,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said after Boston stymied a Jazz team that put up 154 points in an overtime win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

Western Conference leaders Minnesota snapped their first two-game skid of the season with a 122-95 victory over the Rockets in Houston.

Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards scored 24 points and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 with eight rebounds and six assists.

Rudy Gobert added 13 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 33 points.

The Indiana Pacers’ high-octane offense was firing in a 150-116 rout of the Atlanta Hawks.

Tyrese Haliburton handed out 18 of the Pacers’ franchise-record 50 assists and also scored 10 points with eight rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter along with the rest of the Pacers’ starters.

Myles Turner scored 27 points to lead the Pacers, who had eight players score in double figures.

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