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Daily Sweat: Lakers, now without LeBron James, look to continue winning streak vs. Grizzlies

It looked like things were finally starting to trend in a positive direction for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Following a few savvy moves at the trade deadline, the Lakers have won three straight and have been creeping back up the standings in the crowded Western Conference. The team’s most recent win was a doozy. L.A. overcame a 27-point deficit and beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-108 on the road.

But it came at a cost.

LeBron James, now the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, suffered a foot injury in the win. James finished the game in Dallas despite a noticeable limp, but has already been ruled out for Tuesday night’s game at the Memphis Grizzlies. And according to multiple reports, James could be sidelined for weeks.

The Lakers were already without starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, who has been dealing with an ankle sprain. Russell is listed as doubtful for Tuesday night’s game in Memphis.

With those two likely sidelined, the Lakers are 9.5-point underdogs against the Grizzlies, the Western Conference’s second-place team. The Memphis game is the first in a road back-to-back for the Lakers, who will be in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

Can the Lakers rally without James and pull off an upset in Memphis? The Lakers are 18-26 straight-up as an underdog this season, including 11-18 as a road underdog. The team’s numbers are a bit better (but not great) against the spread — 20-23-1 ATS as an underdog.

The Lakers are 29-32 on the year, just a half-game out of the No. 10 spot. At the same time, the West standings are so compacted that the Lakers are only 3.5 games behind the Phoenix Suns, who currently occupy the No. 4 seed.

There is still plenty of room to move up the standings, but the Lakers are starting to run out of time with just 21 games remaining in the regular season.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) dribbles during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) dribbles during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

What else is going on in the NBA?

It’s a pretty busy night in the NBA with 10 games on the schedule.

The Milwaukee Bucks, who now own the league’s best record thanks to the Boston Celtics' loss to the New York Knicks on Monday night, are on the road against the Brooklyn Nets. The Bucks are riding a 14-game winning streak and are favored by 6.5 points in this matchup.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is coming off a remarkable 71-point outing in a win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday. What can he do for an encore? The Blazers are on the road Tuesday night and 4.5-point underdogs to the Golden State Warriors.

Elsewhere, the Sacramento Kings are 2.5-point road favorites over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks are favored by 8.5 points at home over the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Clippers are favored by 6.5 at home over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A great night of college basketball

We’re mere hours away from the glorious month of March and that means college basketball is heating up.

No. 6 Marquette can clinch the outright Big East title on Tuesday night with a win over Butler. The Golden Eagles are 9.5-point favorites.

In the ACC, a suddenly reeling Virginia hosts Clemson, which is on the NCAA tournament bubble. UVA, now No. 13 in the AP poll, is favored by 6.5 points at home. Additionally, Duke is a 6.5-point favorite over NC State, which is coming off a blowout loss to Clemson and looking to improve its NCAA tournament seeding with a quality road win.

In the Big Ten, two teams coming off big wins will meet in Bloomington as No. 15 Indiana hosts Iowa. IU knocked off rival Purdue on the road over the weekend, while Iowa overcame a 13-point deficit in the final minutes to shock Michigan State. In this one, Indiana is favored by 5.5 points. Over in the Big 12, Texas Tech has a massive opportunity. The Red Raiders had a tough home loss to TCU on Saturday and are projected to be outside the NCAA tournament field by most bracket prognosticators. But TTU can get a significant boost if it manages to upset No. 3 Kansas on Tuesday night. The Red Raiders are 9.5-point underdogs in Lawrence.

There’s also a big one in the Mountain West. No. 18 San Diego State already clinched the league’s regular-season title, thanks to a thrilling win over New Mexico over the weekend but now has to head on the road to face a Boise State team fighting for its NCAA tournament life. The Broncos are favored by 2.5 points at home.

Marquette's Tyler Kolek (11) reacts with Oso Ighodaro (13) during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against DePaul on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Marquette's Tyler Kolek (11) reacts with Oso Ighodaro (13) during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against DePaul on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Don’t forget about conference tournaments

While we’re still a week away from the start of most major conference tournaments, some of the low and mid-major conference tournaments will begin Tuesday.

In fact, the Atlantic Sun’s first round started Monday night, featuring a buzzer-beater in Bellarmine’s win over North Florida.

In addition to second-round action in the ASUN, the Horizon League, Patriot League and Sun Belt tournaments will get underway Tuesday.

There are four games in the Atlantic Sun, three games in the Horizon, two games in the Patriot and two more in the Sun Belt.