The Los Angeles Lakers will try to avoid starting 0-3 for the second time in their LeBron James-era.
Los Angeles is scheduled to host the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday evening, two nights after losing their second straight game to start the season. The Lakers dropped their season opener to the visiting Golden State Warriors, and then lost another home game on Friday to the Phoenix Suns.
Los Angeles lost its first three games to start the 2018-19 season and then failed to make the playoffs in their first year with James, who had won NBA titles with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 0-2 start by the Lakers follows an 0-6 preseason and comes nearly five months after they dropped the final three games of their first-round playoff series against the Suns.
“We’re going to get it together. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Lakers backup center Dwight Howard said. “You got to crawl before you walk.”
Howard only played nine minutes in the 115-105 loss to the Suns on Friday night, but he was a main figure in the storyline after clashing with teammate Anthony Davis during a timeout late in the first half. Howard and Davis each said the issue has been put to rest, but Howard did not play in the second half.
“We’re good,” Davis said. “Just two guys that are competitive and want to win games.”
The Grizzlies are off to a 2-0 start after holding on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 120-114 on Saturday night at Staples Center. The Grizzlies won their season opener against the visiting Cavaliers 132-121 on Wednesday.
Memphis point guard Ja Morant has poured in 65 points through the first two games on 27-for-48 shooting.
“He watches a lot of film,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said of Morant. “He understands where there are so many great growth opportunities.”
Morant’s contributions have been welcoming, but not as surprising as the 42 points De’Anthony Melton has combined for on 17-for-30 from the floor.
Lakers swingman Austin Reaves may have earned additional playing time with his play late in the game against the Suns.
Reaves made his team debut with the Lakers trailing 94-67 at the start of the fourth quarter and scored 12 points on 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point distance, helping make the final score appear more respectable.
Reaves opted to go undrafted in June and signed a two-way contract with the Lakers instead.
He impressed enough to make the team out of training camp and took advantage of his first opportunity with the Lakers.
“We’re learning about our team,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We gave some of the other wings the first chance. (They) weren’t getting much done as a group in the first three quarters and, as a coach, when you’re down big, you try to change the game with a small lineup and a different guy at the wing. And Austin came in and played really well.”
Reaves could eat away at Avery Bradley’s minutes after the veteran shooting guard did not record a stat in 21 minutes against the Suns, becoming the 11th player in NBA history to play at least 20 minutes and not record a stat.