The Lakers made their second stop on their long road trip tonight in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. This was the third meeting between the two teams this season, and they had split the previous two. With the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks looming at the end of the week the Lakers needed to get a win tonight, but they knew the Grizzlies weren’t going to concede easily.
The Lakers began the game with poor defense, and the Grizzlies were able to capitalize. The Lakers took advantage of their size on multiple occasions, but not on a consistent basis. On the defensive end of the floor the Lakers struggled, and Rudy Gay took advantage. Too many points in the paint resulted in open jump shots for Memphis, and they were knocking them down.
On offense the Lakers weren’t looking much better. Quick jump shots and a lack of ball movement doomed the Lakers in the first. These are the same problems the Lakers have had all season, so it really came as no surprise. A run at the end of the quarter was sparked by the bench, including Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown, and got the Lakers within three after the first twelve minutes, 29-26.
The Lakers picked up the defense in the second quarter, and looked much better than they did in the first twelve minutes. Led by the aggressive play of Pau Gasol, Los Angeles was able to overtake Memphis for the lead about halfway through the quarter. Increased defense allowed the Lakers to keep the lead, and hold it for the remainder of the quarter.
The Lakers shot 46% from the field in the first half and held Memphis to 39.5% shooting. Gasol and Kobe Bryant each had 10 points to lead the way for Los Angeles. The real treat for Laker fans was the defense, as the Lakers allowed just 10 points in the first nine minutes of the second quarter. At the end of the half the Lakers were leading the Grizzlies 50-45.
The third quarter began with the Lakers looking stronger than they had in the second. More activity from Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the paint helped the Lakers push their lead to double digits for the first time in the game. After Derek Fisher and Ron Artest hit back to back threes, the Lakers were leading the Grizzlies 60-49.
After the Lakers built their lead, however, they instantly went into relax mode. Memphis, who had won three straight, took advantage. The Grizzlies began to take advantage of the Lakers lackadaisical play and cut the lead significantly. After the game got more physical towards the end, including an inadvertent slap to the face of Ron Artest from Marc Gasol, things got a little heated between the teams. A technical foul on Rudy Gay followed by a hard foul from the Lakers had the lead down to five again, 73-68.
The Los Angeles offense slowed down in the fourth, as it became stagnant to begin the final period. The Lakers offense was taking too long to develop, and it resulted in low percentage shots from far away. Too many turnovers and second chance opportunities allowed Memphis to hang around, and pull within a couple points on more than one occasion. The Lakers kept Memphis in the game with their mistakes, and it cost them multiple times in the fourth.
Late in the quarter the Lakers managed to put some distance between themselves and the Grizzlies thanks to back to back three pointers from Lamar Odom and Ron Artest. The Lakers two point lead was quickly eight, and they looked as if they were going to leave Memphis with a hard fought win. Aggressive defense and good offense down the stretch finished Memphis off, and the Lakers were able to win their second straight game on the road. The Lakers will head to Boston on Thursday after winning tonight in Memphis, 93-84.