Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening road contest against the Memphis Grizzlies, the second of a seven-game road trip, 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, S. Young, R. Gay, Z. Randolph, M. Gasol
12:00 The Grizzlies are a better basketball team than they’re given credit for, possessing the talent and low post game to become a playoff team, no doubt, and at best a team that could challenge for the five spot in the West. Coming into the game, Memphis ranked ninth in the West at 27-25, but had won eight of 10 games after overcoming a tough early schedule and some missed games due to injury or suspension. And in fact, the Grizz have won 3-of-5 games against the Lakers, including 2-of-3 this season.
7:10 Memphis controlled the pace early, with Mike Conley scoring seven points a home game after he dropped 28 on the Lakers (his season high) back in late November. The Lakers were shooting only 22 percent from the field in the first four minutes of the contest, but managed to tie the game at eight with two Artest free throws and a Bynum bucket on the interior.
2:36 The Grizz began to take some control as the quarter wore on, using a 6-0 run to open a 25-16 lead when former Celtic Tony Allen hit two free throws after drawing a bump on Artest in transition. Gasol answered with a dunk at the other end, his second field goal in four attempts, with Kobe Bryant heading to the bench. In the final 1:18, however, the Lakers used triples from Artest and Shannon Brown plus 1-of-3 Gasol free throws to cut the lead to 29-26. Gasol’s free throws were courtesy of his brother, who fouled him on a late attempted three, though the elder Spaniard hardly capitalized. And oh, by the way, Snoop Dogg was in the house sitting courtside in seats delivered by Matt Barnes, in advance of his concert later that night.
7:01 It was the second unit of the Lakers, led by Odom and Brown, that took control over the first five minutes of the second, outscoring the home team 13-5 to take a three-point lead as Bryant and Gasol rested on the sideline. Meanwhile, the internet access was so spotty that I had probably sent the fewest tweets from my @LakersReporter account on the season.
3:13 Bryant was in attack-the-hole mode, which was paying off in inside points such as his driving layup after he cleared the defensive board at the other end. Bryant played 42 minutes in L.A.’s Saturday evening win in New Orleans, but thus far wasn’t showing any heavy legs.
0:00 It was a far better defensive quarter for the Lakers; their activity saw the Grizz FG percentage fall from nearly 60 percent down to 40, due to only 5-of-21 makes in the period. Meanwhile, Bryant and Gasol both hit the 10-point mark when Bryant’s two free throws put LAL up 50-45 at the break, an eight-point turnaround from the first quarter.
5:10 The Lakers looked great at the onset of the quarter, utilizing excellent ball movement to get open threes for Fisher and Artest on back-to-back possessions that opened a 12-point lead, but the Grizz battled back to cut that lead in half into a Phil Jackson time out. Clearing defensive rebounds was a problem, Memphis having already grabbed eight, though L.A. had collected nine of their own at the other basket.
2:12 Make that 12 offensive boards, as Odom and Gasol collected three between them before Odom ultimately drew a foul, and hit 1-of-2 free throws that showed LAL to have already missed 9-of-21 from the stripe, with Odom, Gasol and Bynum each missing three as the Lakers clung to a 4-point lead.
0:09.5 A strange final few minutes included an inadvertent Marc Gasol hand bloodying Ron Artest’s nose (Artest wasn’t happy, but calmed down after a time out and a Spanish apology), a technical foul on Rudy Gay, and yet another free throw miss from the Lakers, who’d made only 14-of-26 (54%), leaving 12 free points on the table. As a result, Memphis trailed by only five at 73-68 into the final quarter.
6:17 After committing four turnovers in the first five minutes of the fourth to allow Memphis back within three, Odom nailed a triple to make it 81-76. The Lakers may not have made any free throws, but were making up for it from distance.
4:43 Then came yet another triple, this time on a broken play in which Bryant thought he was fouled but Artest collected the ball unguarded on the wing, his third bomb of the night. Rudy Gay appeared to have injured himself on the play, the wheels beginning to come off the Grizzlies wagon, as Odom’s and-1 made it 87-76. In case you want some more missed free throws, Artest obliged by failing to convert either one off Fisher’s steal … so Fisher just stole the ball again on the next play.
2:19 Gasol’s jumper against his former team all but sealed it, opening a 91-78 lead with the Lakers holding Memphis to only 10 points in the fourth up to that point. Gasol had 17 points with nine boards, while Bryant would reach 19 points with seven boards and six dimes to lead the way to a second straight road win. Your final: 93-84 Lakers.
2 More points for Lamar Odom (15) than the entire Grizzlies bench (13). Odom outplayed Grizz star Zach Randolph (eight points, 12 boards) with his 15 and 11 boards on the evening in 30 minutes.
5 More games to play on L.A.’s seven-game trip, the team’s road record improving to 17-8 on the season, trailing only the Spurs and Mavericks in win percentage.
10 Fourth quarter points for the Grizzlies until two late Sam Young threes in the final minute, the Lakers up by double digits.
14 Missed free throws for the Lakers, including four from Ron Artest and Pau Gasol, and three from Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. Kobe Bryant bucked the trend at 7-for-7.
61.5 Lakers shooting percentage from three at 8-for-13 early in the fourth quarter, until three late misses dropped the percentage down a bit.