Below is a running diary of L.A.’s road game at Memphis, as the Lakers looked to get back into the win column after back-to-back losses at Utah and vs. Indiana, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and P. Gasol
Grizzlies: M. Conley, X. Henry*, R. Gay, Z. Randolph and M. Gasol
*Henry was starting his third game of the season, with former starter O.J. Mayo being moved to the bench to offer more scoring punch to the second unit.
6:00 It was all Kobe and Pau in the opening six minutes for L.A., the two All-Stars scoring six points apiece in a 12-11 Lakers lead. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing, however; Phil Jackson had lamented his team’s lack of proper ball movement within the triangle offense in Sunday’s loss to Indiana, and it wasn’t much better early on as L.A.’s only assist came on a Bryant dish to Gasol.
3:00 Sometimes we neglect to notice how well Artest is playing on the defensive end because his offensive contributions have been limited this year, but despite not taking a shot in the first nine minutes, Ron Ron held a hot-all-season Rudy Gay to two points with L.A. leading 21-20.
0:00 Bryant and Gasol got some help from their friends as the quarter wore on, with Fisher nailing two jumpers and Artest and Brown hitting back-to-back driving shots to allow L.A. a 27-all tie out of the first quarter. In unrelated news, Memphis had a bunch of senior citizens perform the “Dougie” dance during intermission, which was admittedly quite enjoyable.
8:09 One common threat in L.A.’s two straight losses? The previously hot bench trio of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown had made only two threes, this after a collective 23 makes in the previous three games. Blake tried to start trending back the other way by knocking one down early in the third, before Bryant added a triple of his own and a driving layup to put L.A. up 37-31 while reaching 16 points.
3:00 Ah, the dilemma of sitting Gasol. Phil Jackson’s been looking to get him more rest than his much-publicized 38-ish minutes per game on the season, but when he subs him out, the Lakers inevitably go into a slide. This time, Memphis ran out for easy buckets as rookie Derrick Caracter gave Gasol a two-minute break, going on a 6-0 run to erase the Lakers’ lead.
0:00 We saw many of the same problems that affected L.A. adversely in its previous two losses in the first half, with too much dependence on Bryant (6-for-16 field goals), too little Lamar Odom (only two field goal attempts), not enough bench help (nine total points) and little relief for Gasol in the paint. Nonetheless, the Lakers trailed by only two points at 51-49, despite turning the ball over nine times to just three from the Grizzlies, who conceded zero points to L.A. off those TO’s. Mike Conley led Memphis with 13 points, frequently either getting or finding himself wide open,
7:30 A disturbing trend has developed of late for the Lakers in the name of allowing point in the paint. The Grizzlies scored inside on four of six possessions, the other two times getting a wide-open three from Mike Conley and Xavier Henry’s long two, to open a 64-53 advantage, the home team’s biggest lead of the night.
2:15 Struggling considerably from the field (7-for-21 after starting 3-of-6), Bryant got a jumper to fall from the corner to cut the lead to seven before getting his final rest of the game, Brown joining Barnes, Blake, Artest and Gasol
0:21.1 Barnes, on one end keeping up the solid D of Rudy Gay that held Memphis’s top player to 12 points, snuck in for a layup through traffic to cut the Grizzlies lead to five at 70-65 heading into the fourth quarter.
11:03 Yet it took only a minute for the Grizzlies to push the lead right back up to 11, thanks to back-to-back triples from Greivis Vasquez (guarding fellow former Maryland Terp Blake, incidentally) and Mayo, the second in transition after L.A. again failed to get back on defense.
9:14 Speaking of Blake … he nailed his second triple of the quarter and third of the game to cut Memphis’s lead back to seven, even while bench mate Brown could not seem to get untracked, having hit 1-of-5 shots and missing all three of his triples. Moments later, Gasol scored on consecutive trips against Hasheem Thabeet to bring the Lakers 15 points halfway through the period after they’d managed only 16 in the entire third quarter, but L.A. hadn’t been able to stop the Grizz at the other end, conceding 15 points themselves.
3:38 Consider Brown untracked. He somehow nailed a 30-foot rainbow three from the top of the key as the shot clock expired, and followed with a difficult running layup to suddenly cut the lead to just four, giving L.A. a puncher’s chance to steal a road victory down the stretch after a mediocre-at-best performance throughout.
0:00 A thoroughly bizarre comeback attempt by the Lakers ended up going the wrong way, as Artest hesitated after Bryant found him for a potential game-winning three, and then shot an air ball as time expired. L.A. had trimmed a seven-point Memphis lead with just over a minute left to two thanks to an earlier three from Artest, and then Bryant’s driving layup with 28 seconds left. Gasol came up with a critical steal of Conley on Memphis’s next possession, and found Bryant in transition before the Artest miss. An unfortunate ending to an unfortunate game for the Lakers, to be sure.