From Mark Medina, LA Times: Just when it appeared the outcome was in doubt, the Lakers secured a sizable lead thanks to some critical shots. It started with Bryant kicking the ball out to the top of the key to Odom, who drained a three-pointer that gave the Lakers an 81-76 lead with 6:17 left in the fourth quarter. On his way to the bench following Memphis’ timeout, Odom chattered in an enthusiastic mood, prompting Jackson to smile in amusement considering the game was far from over. The Lakers made sure Memphis didn’t answer, not only by making defensive stands but by continuing to hit shots when it mattered. Off the timeout, Bryant drove the lane and missed, but Gasol grabbed the rebound and kicked it out to Artest, whose far corner three-pointer widened the lead to 84-76 with 5:46 left in the game. Two possessions later, a pick-and-roll sequence between Bryant and Gasol resulted in El Spaniard receiving an open look on the far wing. He then fed Odom as he cut into the lane, converted on a three-point play and gave the Lakers a secure 87-76 advantage with 4:43 left.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: So far, so good on this little thing they call the Grammy trip. Two contests into their seven-game swing east of the Mississippi, the Lakers have yet to show any ill effects from being away from home. On Saturday they easily swatted away the Hornets. Tonight they visited FedEx Forum in Memphis for a date with the Grizzlies and left with a 93 to 84 victory under their belts. Perhaps a change of scenery is just what the champs needed. Unless you’re a connoisseur of unforced turnovers, should such a species even exist, tonight’s win isn’t one to stash away on your DVR and rewatch over the summer. Neither team ever got into a flow offensively. There were a lot of passes to nowhere and, for a game not taking place in a YMCA league for 8-to-10 year olds, a surprising number of airballs. Both sides were grumpy with the refs, and stoppages caused by minor owies to Ron Artest and Rudy Gay contributed to the overall sense of a night lacking in rhythm. As Laker fans well know, however, any visit to Memphis that doesn’t include a loss or a crippling injury to Andrew Bynum counts as successful.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Thanks to L.A.’s largess (see below), the Grizzlies entered the fourth with a chance to steal a game the Lakers seemed ready to salt away, but found themselves stonewalled by the champs. Even as the Lakers went over three minutes without scoring, Memphis was only able to shave two points off their lead. After Tony Allen finished with a dunk at the rim to cut a lead for the still-stagnant Lakers to two with 7:01 to play, L.A. clamped down. Hard. Memphis didn’t score again for over four minutes, a stretch featuring two steals from Ron Artest, another from Derek Fisher, and a host of strong close outs (or wise “Hey-Tony-Allen-feel-free-to-take-that-open jumper!-outs). Until a pair of totally meaningless Sam Young triples in the final minute of play, the Lakers had held Memphis to 10 points in the frame.
From Matthew Noe, 3 Shades of Blue: It’s just weird how physically chippy and ridiculously close the games between these two teams have been lately, except that LOVELY blowout whoopin’ the Griz put on the Lakers just a few weeks back.This one didn’t turn out all that close, but it was no blowout. It makes for great, entertaining basketball..except that the officiating bias the league has for ol’ #24 really shows sometimes. Nothing new there though. The Grizzlies kept themselves in this game twice, sorta: -they got off to a great start, taking the first quarter 29-26….but it shouldn’t have been that close. Had the Griz been able to put a bit more of a lid on it in the first, this game might have turned out differently. Sam Young’s great offensive play (and more-than-credible defensive play) against Kobe was principal among the reasons the Grizzlies looked to make a game of it at all.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Lakers forward Ron Artest has been known to lose control of his temper, his past often linked to that fateful day when he went into the crowd and punched a fan more than six years ago near Detroit.?? He hasn’t lost control in a game since joining the Lakers, though he certainly wasn’t thrilled about being accidentally popped in the face Monday by Marc Gasol after stealing the ball from the Memphis Grizzlies center.?? Artest ran all the way to the other end of the court, took a knee and put his face in his hands. He then gave Gasol the stare of death as he walked to the bench during a timeout, the referees tracking every step.?? Kobe Bryant checked with Artest a couple of times in the huddle, tapping him on the head, making sure he was keeping his cool, as did Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person, a longtime confidant of Artest.?? Gasol apologized to Artest when the timeout finally ended.?? When Artest doesn’t want to talk about something, he’ll say he doesn’t remember what happened, a tactic he employed with reporters after the Lakers’ 93-84 victory.
From Tom Ziller, SBNation: To call a basketball player a “black hole” is to defile said player’s character. Basketball, like soccer, is a game of collaboration and synergy. No one wants to play with a ballhog on the blacktop, or watch an NBA player go dribble-dribble-dribble shoot. It’s boring and effective. In the NBA, the definition stretches to include any player considered to shoot too much without spreading the love. It’s a bit less of a pejorative, if only because at the NBA level the stars score with so much panache. If you don’t spread the ball in rec league play, the game turns into a series of clanked jumpers and out-of-control layups. In the NBA? It’s flying dunks and, well, clanked jumpers. But you get the point. The amateur game is rarely beautiful when the teams don’t operate as a symphony. An NBA game can be a masterpiece even in the absence of cooperation, thanks to the immutable gifts of the players involved.