MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Mike Conley scored 10 of his season-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Lakers 98-96 on Tuesday night, sending the defending champs to their third straight loss.
It's just the second three-game skid for the Lakers since they traded with Memphis for Pau Gasol to team him up with Kobe Bryant and first since March.
The Grizzlies now have won four straight at home and four of five overall.
The Lakers had a chance to at least tie the game or win at the end. Conley lost the ball when he drove the lane and crashed into Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant passed to Ron Artest for a 3-pointer for the win, but Rudy Gay blocked the shot as the Grizzlies held on for their second win in four games against the defending champions.
Gay finished with 14 points. Zach Randolph had 13 and eight rebounds. Xavier Henry had 12, Marc Gasol had 10 and nine rebounds. O.J. Mayo had 11 points off the bench.
Bryant finished with a game-high 29 points but was 9-of-25 from the floor, including 1-of-6 outside the arc. Pau Gasol had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
It looked like it would be a tight game early as the teams swapped the lead 17 times with 13 ties until Marc Gasol's three-point play put Memphis ahead to stay with 3:18 left in the first half. The Grizzlies led 51-49 at halftime and opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run started by consecutive buckets by Conley.
The Lakers pulled within 70-65 at the end of the third quarter. Greivis Vasquez opened the fourth with a 3, Mayo hit a 3 and Sam Young hit two free throws for a quick spurt that gave Memphis the biggest lead of the game at 78-65.
The Grizzlies still lead 89-80 and had fans chanting "Defense, defense" when it appeared Bryant had completely missed the bucket with an air ball. The teams were starting to head back down court when an official ruled the Grizzlies had touched the shot, giving it back to Los Angeles.
The Lakers struggled to get a shot off until Shannon Brown's 3 beat the shot clock with 4:07 left. That seemed to energize the Lakers who started trimming that lead down. Brown scored again, Bryant hit four straight free throws, then Lamar Odom hit a pair.
But Conley kept answering first with a jumper, then his 3 with 1:41 left. Artest hit a 3 with 59.3 seconds left, and Bryant drove for a layup to pull the Lakers the closest since halftime.
Los Angeles had its biggest lead of the game at 43-37 on a 3-pointer by Artest with 6:29 left in the second quarter.
The Lakers stayed in the game in the first half thanks to the free throw line, hitting 12-of-14. Bryant made more free throws by himself (6-of-8) than the Grizzlies (5-of-8).
Oone of Memphis' highlights in the half came when Hasheem Thabeet, the No. 2 pick overall last year, took a charge from Bryant in the final minute of the first half.
Notes: The Lakers gave Memphis its worst loss this season Nov. 2 with a 124-105 win in Los Angeles. ... Bryant came in having hit 32-of-72 from the floor over his previous three games. He was just 6 of 16 in the first half. ... Darrell Arthur was inactive with a strained left groin. ... The Lakers still lead this series 43-15 and 19-10 on the road. ... The Lakers outrebounded Memphis 42-29, but the Grizzlies had a 38-36 edge in scoring in the paint.
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