Lakers 85, Grizzlies 104: Jan. 2 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening contest against Memphis as the Lakers looked for their third straight win, 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, Gasol and Bynum
Grizzlies: M. Conley, T. Allen, R. Gay, Z. Randolph, M. Gasol

8:44 The best thing the Lakers can see at this point of the season is the return of Andrew Bynum’s explosiveness, and that’s precisely what happened as he followed up a swat of Mike Conley’s jumper with a two-handed alley-oop slam at the other end. Minutes later, Bynum had amassed five points and four rebounds before heading to the pine. Bynum’s presence also allowed L.A. the big matchup edge at the four, with Pau Gasol taking advantage of Zach Randolph to make his first three shots.

2:45 L.A. was converting its shots just fine, it just wasn’t producing many, starting the contest 7-for-12 but turning the ball over four times as the Grizzlies took advantage to tie the score at 15.

0:41.5 After scoring 24 and 18 points in his first two games off the bench, Lamar Odom didn’t show any signs of slowing down early against the Grizz, scoring five points with three boards and an assist in six minutes. Meanwhile, his Team USA teammate Rudy Gay was apparently feeling much better after missing Memphis’s Saturday game with the flu, hitting a late three to bring his total to 10 and put the his team up 23-18 at the quarter break.

5:34 The Grizz got a 7-0 run out of its bench, five of the points coming from Darrell Arthur, to counter three consecutive three-point makes from the Blake-Brown-Barnes trio that masked a lack of solid ball movement from L.A.’s second unit. Phil Jackson responded by putting Fisher, Bryant and Bynum back in, and the Lakers climbed within a point after trailing by eight.

0:00 The Grizz, however, pushed the lead up to nine by closing the half on a 6-0 run. Turnovers (nine) and a lack of offensive rebounds (one) were both big problems for the Lakers, who were outscored 22-14 in the paint and outrebounded 23-18. No Laker had more than seven points, though Bynum was the lone bright spot with seven points, seven boards and four blocks after he’d blocked a total of nine shots in his nine previous games.

7:04 After two more turnovers allowed the Grizz to open a 13-point lead, their largest to that point, at 52-39, rolled off 17 of the next 23 points to get within two at 58-56, with Bryant playing lead guitar with 13 of those points. Bynum continued to look terrific, blocking his fifth shot and grabbing his 10th rebound.

2:00 And then things went the complete other way. Despite Bryant’s continued scoring — 17 points in the quarter — the Grizzlies found themselves up by 17 after a 14-2 run, closed by two straight open jumpers from Conley and two Randolph free throws. The ball stopped moving for L.A., perhaps, but it was their lack of closing out on Memphis jump shooters that really hurt ‘em.

0:00 As a result, Memphis took a 79-62 lead into the fourth quarter. NBA teams like to be within 10 points with six minutes remaining to have a chance to come back, which despite how L.A. was playing certainly wasn’t out of the question…

8:49 … But after the first three minutes of the fourth, it was certainly getting there. Memphis continued to score easily at the rim with Bynum on the bench, getting three layups to open a 20-point lead.

4:37 Jackson waved the white flag, the Lakers trailing by 22 points, as Joe Smith got his first minute in a Lakers’ jersey. Bottom line: L.A. got outworked, the Grizzlies looking determined from the onset, and the Lakers not responding to their first time being challenged for a full game since Bynum returned to the starting line up. The fact remains, of course, that the Lakers (23-11) still have 48 games to play in 2011 before the playoffs start. Chances are they’ll respond with a much better effort when the Pistons come to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

0:00 The final score in a game L.A. would like to forget a.s.a.p.: Grizz 104, Lakers 85.