Lakers – Grizzlies Running Diary

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Lakers: Jordan Farmar, D.J. Mbenga
Grizzlies: Hamed Haddadi

A question about Andrew Bynum before we get started tonight: “What’s wrong?”

If you simply took a look at the box scores from L.A.’s losses in Miami and Orlando, here’s what you’d see … combined … from Bynum: 38 minutes; seven points; seven rebounds; four turnovers; nine personal fouls; zero blocks.

There’s no reason to even evaluate that, as the stats speak loudly. What I did want to do is talk to ‘Drew for a few minutes before the game to see what he’s been thinking, and here’s the gist:

“I need to get up and down the court faster, get position down low, and go to work.”

OK. That’s pretty simple. Anything else?

“I actually got out on the floor to do a little more work than usual before the game,” he told me. “Usually I just go out and shoot jump shots before the game, but tonight I really did a lot of low post work. I worked on moves, used my dribble, and things like that.”

OK. Finally, where’s your head at?

“My mindset needs to be aggressive,” he continued. “When I’m passive, I don’t play well, but when I’m aggressive I do. We’ve been focusing on getting me and Pau going offensively, but we have to make sure and get our defense going tonight.”

When prompted, Bynum did pause to joke around a bit about how he had Lil’ Wayne, T.I. and Jay-Z mix tapes and I didn’t. But he seemed generally focused, at least, so we’ll see if he’s able to move his feet defensively, stay out of foul trouble and get that offense going.

One other note: Don’t expect Kobe Bryant to shoot too much in the first quarter. This has “get my teammates involved early” written all over it.

Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Grizzlies Kyle Lowry, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darko Milicic and Marc Gasol

First Quarter
9:45 Bynum commits a silly foul while jumping out on a screen, brushing Mike Conley Jr. with his body.

7:46 Off a nice Bryant feed, Gasol drove right around Milicic and finished with a flush at the other end.

7:12 Remember that note about Kobe passing the ball? He just passed up an easy jumper in the lane to try and feed Bynum. The ball was deflected and turned over to Memphis. On the next possession, however, Walton found Bynum with a slick pass out of the triangle for an easy dunk.

5:45 Rudy Gay hit his first triple for a 16-14 Grizzlies lead.

4:55 A nice video tribute to Gasol was played on the scoreboard during the first timeout of the game, to which the Memphis crowd responded warmly. There were certainly boos to be had, but the clear majority cheered the franchise’s first All-Star.

3:58 Kobe’s first bucket.

3:41 Having just checked in, Lamar Odom immediately slashed to the hoop in transition, and made 1-of-2 free throws, the second of which was grabbed by Walton. After a miss and another Walton offensive board, Bryant converted a lay-up plus the harm to give L.A. a 20-18 lead.

2:00 Number two on Bynum, this time on a soft offensive foul call that forced Pau to come back off the bench to guard his 23-year-old brother. By the way, did you realize that Memphis is “home of the Blues” and “the birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll?” A random fan just told me that, not sure why. But I think we’re all thankful for the information.

0:24 With Fisher on the bench, Bryant and Sasha Vujacic alternated ball-handling duties, which is something we’ll probably see until (or, if) the Lakers bring in a backup point guard.

0:01 After Hakim Warrick gave Memphis a 25-23 lead with five seconds left, Vujacic found a sprinting Bryant for a tough layup as time expired that tied the score. So, after Bryant spent the first several minutes trying to move the basketball, passing up open looks to try and involve his teammates, he finally had to start shooting as Memphis didn’t seem interested in doubling him. Accordingly, he finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.

Gasol Brother watch:
Pau = Seven points, two boards and a block
Marc = Zero points, two boards, an assist and a steal

Second Quarter
11:32 Vujacic for three. If you think Sasha wasn’t killing himself all day yesterday and today after missing that potential game-winning three in Orlando, then you don’t like hamburgers, pizza or “Braveheart.”

10:16 Did someone request Chris Mihm? There he was, converting a pretty up-and-under reverse layup that showcased some of the athleticism Mihm used to use as an edge over opposing bigs. The Grizzlies will sometimes go to a small lineup with Rudy Gay at the four, but Hakim Warrick’s playing power forward with Gasol at center. With Pau getting a breather, Odom has moved up to power forward, and moments later took a nice pass and flushed it with his left hand for his fifth point tomake it 34-31 L.A.

8:49 If there’s one thing O.J. Mayo does very well, it’s shoot, as we just saw on his second three-point make of the night. The kid’s undersized for a shooting guard, but he has a very pretty stroke that he’s able to get off quickly. Remember that Memphis dealt Mike Miller and the draft rights to Kevin Love for Mayo (plus two older players from each side, with Memphis taking on the worse contracts) on draft night. The word was that Memphis’ owner wanted Mayo’s star power, and was willing to give up what the basketball operations staff wasn’t interested in conceding (Miller). I actually think Love would have fit in well with Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay, while Mayo and Gay sometimes seem to be racing to 20 shots.

6:31 As Fisher hit two free throws to knot the score at 38, Vladimir Radmanovic checked in off the bench for Odom, joining Mihm, Ariza and Bryant on the floor. Obviously, Farmar’s absence has influenced the lineup fluidity, but this group may never have even practiced together. Take a look at Boston or Cleveland, and the lineups have been basically the same since game one … But it’s December.

5:14 Vladi three. That’s why he’s there. Also, my dad texted me that Cleveland is actually the home of Rock N’ Roll. Uh oh. Contention. Speaking of texting, Josh Powell’s going to let us know the latest abbreviations that the kids are using these days (teaser: Ight = all right).

4:27 Another example of L.A.’s trapping defense not working … After getting trapped in the corner, Gay found Warrick completely alone on the weak side of the floor, and floated a pass over the defense for a dunk. Way too easy. On the next possession, two Milicic offensive boards would put Memphis up 47-41. It’s pretty obvious that the Grizzlies think they can beat L.A., which may not have been the case a week ago.

2:50 Mayo hits a three on Kobe, and the Lakers throw it out of bounds facing a 50-43 deficit. Jackson wants to talk. I didn’t mention this early (my bad), but Bynum picked up his third foul almost right away … No comment.

1:37 Noticing that no one else was doing anything offensively, Bryant nailed back-to-back threes to bring L.A. within a point.

0:50 Gay capped a personal five-point scoring run with a dunk after he’d converted an and-1 on the previous Memphis possession to put the Grizzlies up 55-49. Bryant missed jumpers on both of L.A.’s final two possessions, while the home team added a Conley layup to take an eight-point lead into the locker room.

It’s hard to imagine too much positivity in L.A.’s locker room at the break. After all, here’s what the first half brought: Kobe tried to be unselfish, and it wasn’t working; Bynum again committed unnecessary fouls and couldn’t stay on the floor; Pau was largely uneffective; L.A. got outworked on the glass (18-15 Memphis); the Grizzlies sunk 5-of-8 threes, most of which were of the wide-open variety, and made all 10 of their free throws. The bottom line? The Lakers have some work to do not just to enable a second half comeback, but to halt what’s becoming a trend of below-par performing.

By the way, more controversy on the Rock ‘N Roll argument:’s Ty Nowell just texted to say that just because Cleveland is the home of the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t mean that it’s the home of Rock ‘N Roll. “I’d give Memphis the edge over Cleveland any day,” he says. Well, if you type “Home of Rock ‘N Roll” into google, then you’d know that the actual home is Q104, a radio station in Nova Scotia. What now?

The Lakers somehow shot 55 percent in the first half, but Memphis scored 16 points off 10 turnovers and grabbed eight offensive boards (to three for L.A.) to eliminate any advantage from good shooting.

Third Quarter
11:45 Bryant jumper from the elbow, straight out of the triangle. That’s a good start from L.A., who on the next possession saw Walton spin nicely in the lane and cut Memphis’ lead in half.

9:24 That didn’t take long. Gasol, isolated on Darko, easily tricked the player drafted ahead of ‘Melo, D-Wade and Bosh into the air and finished with a finger roll to tie the game up at 59. Bynum and Fish added free throws to Pau, Walton and Kobe’s buckets, while Memphis managed to hit 1-of-2 shots with two turnovers to start the second half.

9:00 A fantastic defensive possession out of Memphis’ timeout resulted in a Bynum swat of Mayo, and L.A. rushed to the other end to get 1-of-2 free throws from Bryant for a 60-59 lead. That’s a 11-2 run out of the half.

8:36 Run over. Gay hit an open three to regain the lead for Memphis after a defensive rotation breakdown.

6:17 For the third consecutive offensive possession, Bynum finished things off with an easy bucket. First was a pretty feed from Kobe, second an alley-oop from Pau and third a lay-in from Pau. That’s seven points, two boards and a swat for Bynum in the last six minutes. The Lakers did concede a Mayo layup and another Gay dunk, of alley-oop variety, as Memphis took a 70-66 lead into a timeout.

In the meantime, we have a definitive answer about why Cleveland wins the R&R argument from my dad:

The Big Beat: Alan Freed Exhibition at the Hall of Fame:
“This exhibit features numerous photos, posters and other documents that tell the story of DJ Alan Freed’s career. Particular emphasis is placed on his years in Cleveland, where he began playing rhythm & blues music on a white radio station and where he became the first person to call a new form of music “rock and roll.” In addition, a documentary film features interviews and rare footage documenting Freed’s career. Alan Freed was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.”

Sorry, Memphis and Ty.

4:53 Marc Gasol got whistled for an offensive foul after Fisher came over to double, perhaps a makeup call since Odom wasn’t given the call when Darko bumped him on a layup attempt moments earlier.

3:49 Another three from Memphis, after another failed Laker trap, this time from Kyle Lowry. That’s 8-of-13 from three for the Grizz, compared to 4-of-8 for L.A.

2:35 Sometimes the best offense is to repeatedly take advantage of mismatches, which Lamar Odom did with Milicic trying to guard him. His free throw made it a one-point game, and forced Memphis to stick Darko on the bench. Jackson wouldn’t go to his bench (Odom excepted) until the 1:53 mark, bringing Vujacic and Ariza on for Fisher and Walton. Sasha’s guarding the point guard Lowry.

23.9 Marc can’t guard his brother on the perimeter … Pau’s too quick. Two free throws later and the Lakers trailed 78-77. That’s a quiet 12 points and four boards for Pau. Marc did answer at the other end with Odom trying to defend to give Memphis a three-point cushion heading into the fourth, though the Lakers did trim five points off the halftime lead. Plus, we settled the Rock ‘N Roll argument, and Bynum didn’t pick up a foul, so it was a productive period.

Fourth Quarter
11:02 A nice defensive possession from Vujacic resulted in his picking Marc Gasol’s pocket after the Slovenian harassed Lowry for about 50 feet. You really have to appreciate Sasha’s effort on defense if you’re a Lakers fan. Otherwise, you probably hate him.

9:54 Technical on Odom. He’s been frustrated with the refs for a while now, so that tech was about as shocking as this news: “Lohan busted for another DUI.” That didn’t happen, actually. Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, Ty’s trying to formulate more rock arguments, but I’ve already settled on the old man, so his comments won’t be posted. Let’s concede only that Memphis has a better musical history by far, but we were looking for the “home.”

8:50 Your lineups: Fish, Vujacic, Ariza, Vladi and Bynum vs. Conley, Quinton Ross (who spells Mayo), Greg Buckner and Darko. Meaning Gay, Mayo and Bryant are at the scorers table ready to check in.

6:48 The Grizz tried to isolate Darko on Vladi, who held his ground and helped force a 24-second violation.

5:05 Bynum’s all over the paint defensively. Another block and a steal on back-to-back possessions came at a crucial stretch, particularly since L.A. couldn’t score at the other end.

4:01 After another Lakers miss – from Ariza – Conley Jr. took advantage of a switch by taking Radmanovic to the hole, and finishing plus the foul to put Memphis up 91-85 with Gasol and Odom coming off the bench for the stretch run.

3:45 Big three from Fisher.

3:20 After a Darko dunk … I have to wonder why Bynum left the floor after a great defensive stretch. 93-88 Memphis.

2:46 Ariza came up with L.A.’s biggest defensive play to date, swiping the ball before streaking up the floor, drawing two Grizzlies and dropping off to Odom for a slam. One-point game.

2:05 Kobe … Way to easy a bucket on a iso play with no double-team. L.A. will take that, and take a lead.

1:13 Three-point Lakers lead after Gasol gets one to go in the lane.

58.7 Mayo tied the game with a clutch three-pointer. Huge shot for a rookie.

34.8 Kobe wasn’t having that. Odom was probably fouled on a drive, but I think the Lakers are happy with the result of the play anyway: Gasol grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked to Bryant, who stroked a triple from the top of the key. 99-96 L.A. The Lakers don’t want to give up a good look from three here, so we’ll see what the Grizzlies run.

31.0 Interesting play call from Memphis, who didn’t need to huck up a bad three. But Gay did just that, even though he was doubled right in front of L.A.’s bench. The result was a bad miss, a Fisher rebound, a Memphis foul and … just 1-of-2 free throws from Fisher. That’s three fourth quarter misses from Fish in the last three games, after he’d made 48-of-50 shots to start the season. Troubling, but a two-possession lead nonetheless.

22.8 Remember when Ariza made a great defensive play two minutes earlier? He just made a bigger one, tipping the ball out of Gay’s hands and into those of Odom. Lamar then found Ariza streaking up the floor, and Ariza pulled up instead of taking a layup, content to hit two free throws to put the Lakers up 102-96.

8.3 After a block from Pau and a missed Lowry three, Bryant eventually corralled the board and was fouled at the other end of the floor, making 1-of-2 to put the Lakers up seven.

0.00 Need an emphatic ending? How about another Bryant steal, a streak up the floor and a Air Jordan logo dunk to bury the Grizz with 105-96.