Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against Memphis, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Blake, Meeks, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Grizzlies: M. Conley, T. Allen, T. Prince, Z. Randolph, M. Gasol
8:00 Memphis came out hot, hitting its first four shots, but the Lakers weren’t far behind, hitting 3 of 4 to keep it close in the opening minutes. The Grizz allow the fewest points in the NBA this season, and aren’t explosive on offense, but in this case they were simply hitting jumpers.
0:00 L.A. closed the quarter well, thanks mostly to Kobe, who had four assists with his nine points … and you’ll be shocked, but he was about to start the second quarter, as well, after having sat out a total of 79 seconds in the previous two games.
9:30 A good start to the second quarter had the Lakers up 30-20 after Antawn Jamison answered Marc Gasol’s bucket. The MEM center had grown angry before a pretty post move, drawing a technical foul for arguing an offensive foul called when he elbowed his big brother accidentally, and that after Pau’s and-1 got him to nine points on 4 of 6 shooting.
0:00 Thanks to two difficult jumpers from Bryant (6 of 8 field goals), the Lakers took a 7-point lead into the half. The team’s offense, however, had stalled in the final moments, the screen/roll ball movement from the opening quarter and a half seemingly going away. Meanwhile, 10 turnovers helped lead to 10 fastbreak points from the road team, who aren’t a team that runs much.
10:00 L.A. couldn’t have started the third period any worse, turning the ball over twice (both on Steve Blake, who had five despite averaging 1.2 on the season) and watching MEM go on a 6-0 run to get within a single point.
0:00 Memphis kept it up, looking terrific on defense and scoring in transition as a result, enough to lead by as many as seven early in the period. But then, almost out of nowhere, the Lakers went on an 18-4 run to reclaim control of the game, the lead going back to as many as eight before a late Memphis bucket made it 68-62 heading into the fourth quarter. If LAL hold on to win, that could be a decisive
4:45 After Earl Clark kept up a terrific effort off LAL’s pine by hitting two free throws moments after a layup saving block on the other end, but the Grizz responded with a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead with crunch time approaching. Utah had won earlier in the evening, putting more pressure on the Lakers to stay ahead in the standings for the No. 8 spot.
0:00 L.A. juuuuust held on for a very much-needed victory, getting 1 of 2 free throws from Dwight Howard with four seconds left, and then Howard and Pau Gasol’s help D at the rim to prevent an attempt at a tie from Mike Conley in the final seconds. Bryant finished with 24 points and nine assists, Gasol 19 points and nine rebounds in the victory. As such, the Lakers stay a half game ahead of Utah (a full game in the all-important loss column) heading into Sunday’s game against the Clippers. We’ll see you there.