Lakers 90, Grizzlies 82: Jan. 8 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening home contest against Memphis, the Lakers looking for a sixth straight home win, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Grizzlies: M. Conley, T. Allen, R. Gay, D. Cunningham*, M. Gasol
*Dante Cunningham started in place of the injured Zach Randolph, out for a while with a torn right MCL.

FIRST QUARTER
9:12 Five straight points from Rudy Gay, including an and-1 in transition after Bryant was stripped, allowed an early 7-5 lead. In the preseason, Memphis looked to be one of the only teams in the league that might have matched L.A.’s size, but backup big Darrell Arthur tore his Achilles (out for season), and Zach Randolph his right MCL (out a while), making things tough on the Grizz.

7:57 It’s always enjoyable to watch Tony Allen guard Kobe, since Allen believes he can literally guard anybody (he told me pregame that he “shut down Hall of Famer” Paul Pierce in practice for six years) and never backs down. He certainly is one of the league’s tougher* and better perimeter defenders, though here, he was whistled for his second foul just four minutes in thanks to some craftiness from Bryant.
*Allen was said to have left the face of teammates O.J. Mayo (who subbed in for him) swollen as a result of a card game on the plane last season, according to multiple sources (Yahoo!, CBS, Memphis Commercial Appeal). Don’t mess with him.

0:04.0Pau Gasol (from here on known as “Pau” so as not to confuse with brother Marc, the starting center for Memphis) grabbed an offensive board and stuck it back with a tough baseline fadeaway to put the Lakers up 31-22 at the quarter break. A solid all-around stanza for L.A., who shot 56 percent and contested well on D.

SECOND QUARTER
8:30 Metta … World … Peace! His second hammer dunk of the season, which put the Lakers up 40-26, caused us to dig this amazing Kevin Harlan call from World Peace’s jam on Utah in the season’s third game.

2:55 A beautiful behind-the-back pass from Pau, who ran the fast break from his 7-foot perch, got Bynum a layup that followed the fourth LAL three-pointer, opening a 14-point lead at 52-38 despite 10 Lakers turnovers.

0:00 Bryant was quiet in the final seven minutes of the quarter, taking only one shot (and making it to improve to 6-of-9), while the 11th LAL turnover allowed Memphis to cut the lead to 10 at the break.

THIRD QUARTER
8:00 Despite more turnovers, the Lakers were scoring easily enough to maintain their 10-point lead, getting two Bynum free throws to make it 62-52. However, a circus shot from Allen and furious put-back dunk from Gay followed to cut the home team’s lead to six.

1:16 Bryant continued to put on a clinic on offense, hitting from all areas, including two tough baseline fadeaways and an explosive baseline reverse dunk, but L.A. also continued to turn the ball over, hitting T.O. No. 17 late in the quarter to precede a pull-up J from Quincy Pondexter, who was all-of-a-sudden 6-for-6 from the field for 12 Grizz bench points (Marreese Speights had 14 himself). As such, what should have been a blow out was just a 75-66 lead.

0:00 Having a terrific game off L.A.’s bench from a shooting standpoint was Steve Blake, who hit his fifth shot in six attempts, three of them triples, and this one a three near the close of the quarter to give L.A. a 78-68 cushion despite those 17 turnovers. Blake, however, had not a single assist with his five turnovers, two of them errant passes on potential alley-oops.

FOURTH QUARTER
9:00 With the second unit really struggling offensively to open the fourth, Brown went to his starting line up just three minutes in, the Grizz having shaved six points off the lead to get within four. Immediately helping was Barnes, playing his second straight really good game, as he swatted Mayo, laid in at the other end in transition, then dropped a pull-up J to reach 15 points with eight boards, two assists and two blocks and a steal.

3:20 Despite two missed free throws, Kobe had begun to reclaim the game for L.A., connecting on back-to-back field goals after missing his first three of the quarter to put his team back up nine. He had 26 points on 11-of-20 FG’s.

0:00 Keeping with the theme … more turnovers (26 total) and more points (a jumper from Gasol) eventually turned into an easy L.A. win. A dominant paint performance on the glass had Bynum (15), Gasol (15) and Barnes (10) total more rebounds than the entire Grizz team (34). All three had double-doubles, while Bryant (26 points, nine assists) was one dime away from his own.

As such, that’s the sixth straight home win for the Lakers, who are back at Staples against Phoenix on Tuesday. See you then.