Since acquiring Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies last February, the Lakers hadn’t lost three consecutive games even once.
The streak continues.
Behind a stifling fourth quarter defense that conceded just 16 Memphis points and a Kobe Bryant three-pointer with 34.8 seconds remaining, the Lakers emerged from Tennessee with a win after consecutive losses in Florida at the start of a four-game trip.
“Some nights are easier than others, and other nights you really have to work hard to (get a win),” said Derek Fisher, who played 40+ minutes for the second consecutive game. “Once we got a feel for how they wanted to attack us and who was going to attack us, we were able to adjust in the second half.”
That second half defense produced three crucial steals and blocks from Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the final few minutes that the Lakers turned into points at the other end. Two of the steals came from Trevor Ariza, a frequent thief, and the final from Bryant, who picked a Grizzly pocket in the final seconds and flushed through the Memphis basket in Air Jordan pose as the buzzer sounded.
And with that, much of the negativity that came with Bryant’s missed game-tying J in Miami, or Sasha Vujacic’s missed three in Orlando sailed out the door as Kobe’s dunk sailed through the basket.
Lakers shooting percentage for the game. The only Laker to struggle from the field was Lamar Odom (4-of-12), but to be fair, had he received foul calls on a few of his attempts, he would have been near .500 himself.
Points in the paint scored by the Lakers, compared to 36 from Memphis, meaning the game plan for L.A. largely worked.
Derek Fisher’s playing time, after he’d played 41 minutes against Orlando on Saturday. “When someone goes down, someone has to step up and play more minutes. I don’t think Jordan will be out too long … But if I need to do it for a 20-game or 10-game period, I’m willing to do it to help this team. I work (hard) to play the whole game (if I have to).”
36 Game-high point total from Kobe Bryant, who made 14-of-23 shots including 3-of-6 threes, though he did uncharacteristically miss three free throws.
13 Andrew Bynum’s point total in 21 minutes, thanks to an efficient 6-of-8 from the field that included three dunks. Bynum added four boards and a block, and was very effectively defensively in the fourth quarter, drawing praise from Phil Jackson after the game.
11 Second half turnovers by the Grizzlies.
6 Assists for Pau Gasol in his homecoming, in addition to 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, seven boards and two blocks.
3 Second half turnovers by the Lakers.