for this game

Lakers aim for season sweep of Grizzlies

Apr 11, 2009 - 9:54 PM By Kate Hedlin Stats Writer

Memphis (23-56) at LA Lakers (63-17) 9:30 p.m. EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Lakers are still chasing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. In order to achieve that goal, they'll need to take advantage of their final two regular-season games at Staples Center - and get some help.

After a tough loss, Los Angeles looks for its first sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies in six years Sunday as it tries to improve its chances of finishing with the NBA's best record.

The Lakers (63-17) lost 106-98 at Portland on Friday, snapping a five-game winning streak and falling 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the best record in the league and home court throughout the playoffs. They have two games remaining while the Cavaliers have three.

Kobe Bryant scored 32 but missed a key 3-pointer, had a crucial turnover and missed another 3 all during the final minute.

"I don't think he had worked himself into a position of getting high quality shots," assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. "Kobe has hit those long shots in the past, but there was a time where I felt that we should gotten better shots, but I'm not blaming him for any of that."

Rambis coached the Lakers because Phil Jackson did not travel due to pain in his lower right leg. He is expected to rejoin the team for Sunday.

"It's very discouraging when you lose but I think our guys came out and played hard," Rambis said. "They played hard, we just weren't able to sustain it."

Even if they don't earn home-court advantage throughout, the Lakers will be plenty dangerous in the playoffs. They are one of the league's highest-scoring teams at 106.9 points per game, are 34-5 at home and have a healthy Andrew Bynum back.

Bynum has averaged 14.5 points in two games since returning from a torn MCL that cost him 32 contests.

The Lakers close the season Tuesday against Utah at home, where they've won four straight and 11 of their last 12. Los Angeles recorded a 99-89 victory over the Grizzlies (23-56) at Staples Center on March 3 behind 31 points from Bryant.

Memphis is coming off a 106-89 win over Phoenix on Friday - its fifth victory in seven games. The Grizzlies scored 26 points off 22 turnovers and had five players score in double figures, led by Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, who each had 20.

"It really feels as though we could play anybody," Gay said. "We might as well just go out and just play hard. We have nothing to lose. Our backs are not against the wall. We're just playing free."

With three games remaining, the Grizzlies are looking to the future and with Gay and Mayo leading the way, they're optimistic about next season. The duo is averaging 42.4 points in the last seven games.

"I think the guys are starting to see we can be really good (next season)," guard Mike Conley said. "With a draft pick or two, we'll be back ready to play."

Memphis closes the season with a road game against the Suns on Monday and a home contest Wednesday against Atlanta.

The Lakers are looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 2002-03.