Lakers Notes: Play-In Picture, Vincent, Timer’s Error, Vanderbilt, LeBron

There are countless ways the Western Conference standings could end up, but the Lakers‘ mission is clear heading into Sunday’s game, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Regardless of what else happens, L.A. can secure the No. 8 seed with a victory at New Orleans. That would avoid a potential meeting with the Warriors in the 9-10 matchup with both teams’ seasons on the line.

“Every game matters,” LeBron James said. “Every seed matters.”

The Lakers know that from experience after rising from the seventh seed to reach the Western Conference Finals last season. Woike notes that the worst-case scenario they face on Sunday would be losing to the Pelicans while Golden State and Sacramento both win, which would drop L.A. to No. 10. The Lakers could finish ninth with a loss if either the Warriors or Kings also lose.

Sunday’s game will be challenging because New Orleans, which has won four straight, is also highly motivated. A victory would ensure the sixth seed for the Pelicans, who are just one game ahead of Phoenix.

“They got a lot of weapons on both sides of the floor. And we have to be able to play the right way,” Anthony Davis said after a narrow win Friday at Memphis. “We can’t play how we played tonight, the turnovers and letting them get offensive rebounds and sloppy play. They’ll take advantage of it.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Gabe Vincent delivered his best game since returning from knee surgery to help L.A. avoid a costly loss to the Grizzlies, Woike adds. Playing for just the 10th time this season, Vincent logged 19 minutes off the bench and was a plus-27. “Gabe’s a winner. It’s that simple,” James said. “And as he continues to get his legs up underneath him, hopefully he has enough time, hopefully we continue to give him enough time to get his legs up underneath him. But he’s a winner. That’s why we brought him on.”
  • The NBA confirmed that a timer’s error added an extra 1:06 to Friday’s game, per Jonah Dylan of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Play was stopped for a shot clock violation with 1:14 left in the third quarter, but the game clock was reset to 2:20 without anyone catching the mistake. “The error was not noticed in real time by the teams, the referees, the game clock operator or the stats crew,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said. “While unfortunate, the error was not identified in time to resolve the situation in-game.”
  • There’s no clarity on Jarred Vanderbilt‘s status as the regular season winds down, according to Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. The power forward hasn’t played since February 1 because of a sprain in his right foot, and coach Darvin Ham offered only a brief update on his condition. “He had a good workout [Friday],” Ham said, “so we’ll see.”
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines how the Lakers would be affected if James decides to turn down his $51.4MM player option this summer.
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