Wow, that game was uuuuuuugly. There were fouls, turnovers, sloppy play, and a boatload of missed free throws, with the Lakers coming out with a solid 93-84 win. Considering the last time these two teams played, the Lakers got blown out 104-85 at home, I feel comfortable calling this win “solid.” There were a lot of things that went right, and a lot of things that went wrong…
Things that went right
1) Three Point Shooting
I was tremendously glad to see some solid three point shooting out of the Lakers after what seemed like an eternity of jacking up bricks. Ron Artest (surprisingly) led the way going 3-6 from downtown, and would’ve had a much better percentage had he not thrown up some highly ill-advised off-balance, off-the-dribble, sideways three pointers. Fisher also had a strong shooting night, going 2-3 from three and 4-7 overall. With Shannon, Lamar, and Blake chipping in one three apiece, the Lakers managed to finish 8-16 from beyond the arc.
Despite some fairly lackluster play to start the 1st quarter, the Lakers managed to really key in defensively and push the Grizzlies into bad spots. Gasol, Odom, and Bynum managed to contain Zach Randolph, one of the more efficient scorers in the league, and hold him to 8 points on 2-14 shooting. They also contained Marc Gasol to 5-14 shooting, another one of the league’s most efficient scorers. And while Mike Conley had an excellent start to the game, going 3/3 for 7 points, the bigs, along with Blake and Fisher, managed to hold him to only 2-9 shooting the rest of the game.
The Lakers got their hands in passing lanes, causing 15 turnovers, with each Grizzly starter giving up at least two. Against a very good offensive rebounding team like the Grizzlies, forcing turnovers let the Lakers take possessions away from the Grizzlies without having to battle for rebounds. Even though the Lakers didn’t get many fast break points off turnovers, not giving the Grizzlies the opportunity to get offensive rebounds was probably an even bigger plus.
Things that went wrong
Horrendous Free Throw Shooting
You’d think that Kobe going 7-7 from the line would mean our free throw percentage would be at least 75-80%. But nope, the other Lakers had different plans for us this night, going a collective 14-28 from the line, giving the Lakers an overall line of 21-35, or 60%. Artest and Gasol led the way with 4 bricks apiece from the line, but Odom and Bynum were right behind them with 3 bricks each. Seriously guys, just make your f’ing free throws. If you had, this game would’ve been over by the start of the 4th.
Giving up Easy Points
As I mentioned before, the Lakers were lucky they forced a bunch of turnovers, because the Grizzlies were rushing the offensive boards. While they had only 14 offensive boards, it was those boards in the late 3rd and early 4th quarters that really kept the Grizzlies in the game. And as usual, teams that can run on the Lakers tend to get lots of fast break points. When Memphis pushed the ball, they were able to spread the floor and get into the paint before the Laker bigs could get set on defense, to the tune of 15 fast break points to the Lakers three. And this differential probably would’ve been larger had the Lakers not given up a lot of fouls to prevent easy scores.
Still, this game was a solid win, on the road, against a very good home team (the Grizzlies are 16-8 at home). While the real test may be coming up next against Boston, these past few games seem to have the Lakers pointed in the right direction.