Lakers – Grizzlies Running Diary

Lakers Team IntrosAs always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Previous Lakers – Grizzlies Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers – Grizzlies Running Diary 12-22-2008
Lakers 105, Grizzlies 96: Postgame

Inactives
Lakers: DJ Mbenga, Sun Yue
Grizzlies: Darko Milicic

Starters
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Grizzlies Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol

The game plan for this game should mirror that of the last game: pound the ball into the paint. L.A.’s intent upon keeping Bynum hot, getting Gasol his touches and simply filling in the rest, particularly with Memphis starting rookies at power forward (Arthur) and center (Gasol). That’s just about all there is to it.

By the way, the Grizzlies have lost 11 games in a row since beating Dallas 102-82 on Jan. 4.

First Quarter
12:00 I’m not sure if there are more Lakers fans than Grizzlies supporters here, but there are certainly more purple and gold jerseys, t-shirts and the sort.

11:20 “O.J. Mayo to SHOOT THE TECHNICAL!!!” Memphis’ PA guy’s pretty excited to be here at the FedExForum. After that defensive three seconds tech, Pau Gasol hit a short hook to open L.A.’s scoring effort.

10:23 The big guy’s starting early tonight, as Bynum first catches an alley-oop from Bryant, then swats Gay on defense, then catches an entry pass at the other end, up fakes and makes it plus the harm for a 7-4 Lakers lead. Earlier today, we highlighted Bynum’s five-straight double-doubles while making 65.3 percent of his field goals and hitting 82.5 percent of his foul shots.

8:06 Bynum’s two free throws didn’t even look close to missing. What if Shaq or Dwight Howard were able to knock down free throws at an 80+ percent clip? Bynum came into his current hot streak shooting just below 70 percent, but had only taken an average of four per game. He seems to be better when shooting them in more volume, which appears likely as his offensive game is so tight right now.

6:55 Oh no. Bynum just went down in a heap after Bryant collapsed on his knee in the lane. It’s hard to even put the potential implications of this into words (just look at the last few paragraphs) but we’ll have to wait for official news before drawing any conclusions. The entire Lakers team was out on the floor looking on as Bynum remained on the floor for a good three or four minutes, and now has to go back out and perform.

5:16 The Lakers are rightfully rattled, and the Grizz responded with a 9-0 run to take a 17-13 lead.

3:38 Mayo jumper, and a 23-17 lead for the home team. What a challenge it is to focus on the game at hand while each and every Laker has Bynum’s health on their mind. Yet if anyone can focus, it’s Bryant – who surely feels the worst of anyone after being pushed into ‘Drew – who just made 1-of-2 at the foul line as Jordan Farmar and Trevor Ariza checked into the game.

1:11 Ariza capped a 7-0 run sparked by the Lakers bench to get the lead back at 24-23. But more telling was the look of dejection and worry on Bryant’s face as he checked out of the game moments earlier.

0:19.4 Right back came the Grizzlies, with a 6-0 run of their own capped by a huge alley-oop from sub Kyle Lowry to Gay.

Odom would answer with an emphatic one-handed dunk that punctuated his streak through the lane and made it a 29-26 Grizzlies lead after one.

Here’s the Bynum news: The original diagnosis for Andrew Bynum is a “sprained right knee,” according to Lakers sideline reporter John Ireland. Bynum is undergoing an X-ray now, but we probably won’t learn more about it until he gets to New York tomorrow for further testing.

Second Quarter
10:08 Vujacic hit the third of his three-point attempts to cut the Memphis lead to one at 32-31.

8:18 Gasol was the recipient of a nice defensive play from Odom and Ariza, dunking in transition to put L.A. up 37-36. That’s 10 points and four boards for Pau.

7:58 Checking into the ball game due to the absence of Bynum was Chris Mihm, who immediately converted a nice pass from Ariza into a layup.

More from Ireland on TV: “Bynum’s X-rays were negative, as expected. He will not return tonight and still awaits an MRI tomorrow in New York.”

Stu Lantz added that the X-ray doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but everyone’s crossing their fingers.

3:55 Another Mayo jumper, from three, put Memphis up 52-45 for its biggest lead of the game. Mayo then scored on the next possession to make it a nine-point game.

2:43 Capping a 14-4 Grizzlies run was capped by an and-1 from Hakim Warrick that gave Memphis a 59-46. Insert broken record: the Lakers have their minds in another place. Kobe in particular appears extremely frustrated.

1:07 A three from Vladimir Radmanovic swished through for the Lakers, who need contributions from everyone to get over their understandable mental funk. Perhaps going into the locker room, seeing Bynum and hearing more about the injury will help the focus in the second half.

0:33.7 Gasol dunked easily underneath to cut what had been a 13-point lead to just six heading into the half, a good close under circumstances I’ve already mentioned 10 times. I have to say, there hasn’t been a time this season that the Lakers fled the halftime court so quickly. Alas, Memphis led 61-55 at the break.

Third Quarter
The coincidence is almost uncanny with Bynum’s injury, because it was right here in Memphis last January when he’d been playing, by far, his best ball of the season before going down. Lakers fans can only hope this injury is nothing like that which put ‘Drew out for the remainder of last season.

10:33 That focus we thought might come through to start the third after a rally-around-the-flag halftime? That happened with a bullet. Bryant’s and-1 layup capped a 10-2 run to start the quarter that put the Lakers up 65-63. First came a layup from Odom, then a Bryant post up, Fisher three and Bryant’s and-1.

8:53 Marc Gasol committed his fourth foul trying to check his brother, resulting in his trip to the bench and two Pau free throws that put L.A. up 70-69. Chances are Pau doesn’t call that foul in the Barcelona driveway…

8:28 Mike Conley had made just 30 threes heading into the ball game (shooting 37 percent), but just made his third in three attempts for the Grizz.

5:36 Odom went up to attempt another rim-rocking, left-handed jam off the baseline, but was fouled in the process. LO did convert both free throws to give L.A. a 77-76 lead. Odom has struggled from the line throughout the season, shooting just 60.8 percent from the stripe.

5:06 Heating up was Fisher, who stroked a deep jumper to precede Odom’s baby hook that put L.A. up 81-78. Last year’s NBA Finals lineup has certainly been effective in this third quarter.

3:26 Gasol nailed back-to-back shots to put L.A. up seven, a 13-point turnaround from the start of the quarter. Pau’s been extremely effective with 8-of-10 shooting for his 22 points, plus seven boards and three assists.

0:11.3 An absurdly difficult shot was willed in by Bryant, running to his left, looking to pass and finally turning to throw in a line drive to give him 10 in the quarter. Mayo did manage two free throws to pull two points back, but the Lakers still went into the fourth up nine, a 15-point turnaround from the halftime score.

Fourth Quarter
11:30 Vujacic opened the scoring with two free throws. On the floor with Sasha were Farmar, Ariza, Odom and Mihm.

Vujacic followed with a tough jumper on the next possession to give L.A. its largest lead at 13, 95-82.

9:03 The onslaught continued as Odom found Ariza with a slick behind-the-back pass that Trevor laid in from the baseline for a 15-point edge. Farmar would push the lead to 18 on the next possession with an and-1 as the Lakers continued to roll. P.S. the Lakers have locked down their bucket as if a body were lying on top of it.

6:03 The Grizzlies finally scored – for the first time in the fourth – as sub Quinton Ross got all the way to the hole to make it.

The good news for L.A. was building that lead behind a great all-around effort from Odom. The bad was that Odom tweaked his foot, and left the game to see athletic trainer Gary Vitti.

4:43 Following the recent trend, Gay began to writhe in pain grabbing his shoulder, but he’s up and still playing with his team trailing 102-91. Meanwhile, back in the game came Kobe and Pau.

4:06 A Fisher three quickly erased any momentum Memphis may have built in the last few minutes.

3:22 Slick hoop from Kobe gave him 21 points, and L.A. a commanding 106-93 lead as we continue to try and construct good karma for Bynum’s MRI.

0:00 Ultimately, a 115-98 win wasn’t even close to at the top of L.A.’s collective mind as we all wait for news on Bynum’s knee tomorrow morning.