Lakers 116 – Grizzlies 111 Box Score
In a gutsy, hard-fought game, the Lakers escaped Memphis with a win after playing two extra periods. Dominating for most of the game, Andrew Bynum brought the Lakers back from an early deficit, shooting 7-9 in the 1st half, finishing with a monstrous 15-18 for 37 points and 16 rebounds. For much of the 2nd quarter, Bynum and Marc Gasol seemingly traded punches for their teams, each team going exclusively into their big guys, Bynum’s power game against Gasol’s running hook shot and turnaround jumpers. The younger Gasol couldn’t keep pace, however, finishing 10-25 with 20 points and 10 boards.
Additionally, Kobe played a very controlled game, shooting only 5 times in the 1st half. It was in the 2nd half where he tried to take over, to somewhat mixed results. Many times, Kobe’s offensive brilliance allowed him to take and make shots that only he could; other times, Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter really bothered Kobe, forcing to take several heavily contested shots. Kobe, however, adjusted his game and became a playmaker in the 4th quarter and both overtimes (more on that later).
Honorable mention goes to Steve Blake, who made 3-4 three pointers and ran the offense fairly smoothly. The Lakers defense also should get some credit, overcoming a 17 point deficit in the 3rd quarter to come back and tie the game in regulation before going on to win in double OT.
Getting that deficit, however, I would not describe as “good.” Darius mentioned in the preview that two big things the Lakers had to watch out for were to 1.) not turn the ball over, and 2.) force the Grizzlies to shoot jump shots. Well the Lakers did the 2nd one fairly well, only to have Marreese Speights go crazy with his jump shot, sinking 9-13 at one point and finishing 12-20 for a season high 25 points. Tony Allen also started the game hot, going 5-8 (great by his standards), all on long jump shots.
The Lakers were still their own greatest enemy, turning the ball over 18 times, leading to 24 points for the Grizz. Many of these TOs were simply careless passes on the perimeter, things that shouldn’t happen in practice let alone a game. Credit the swarming defense of the Grizzlies, however, for taking advantage of these mistakes.
I think someone needs to check the stats on how well Metta World Peace shoots each game after either a.) making his first shot, or b.) missing his first shot. Against the Celtics, he made his first three, had a great game, and was a huge factor in that win. Today against the Grizz, he missed his first three, and went on to finish the game 1-7, missing all 5 of his attempts from 3 as well as three free throws. Today also marked another game where Troy Murphy, Matt Barnes, and Andrew Goudelock were mostly non-factors, and Josh McRoberts somehow played 6 minutes with 1 board and 1 assist. And this section wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include OJ Mayo, who shot 7-25 for the Grizz, including 0-8 from three, doing a lot to help the Lakers in the second overtime.
The Play of the Game
While I can’t point to a single play, I can point to a single set that the Lakers ran multiple times to excellent results. With Kobe handling the ball on the wing, Gasol comes to set a screen. Kobe goes over the screen, drawing both Gasol’s man and his own defender. Holding the ball for just a moment, Kobe hits Gasol with either a crisp bounce pass or a pass over the top. Gasol, with an open lane to the basket, sees Bynum’s man rotate to him on the closeout. Then, putting up a picture perfect lob, Bynum throws it down ferociously for two easy points. As Darius said, when the Lakers big 3 run that side pick and roll, it’s like a cheat code. The Lakers easily ran this set 4 times this game, including once in each OT session.
This just goes to show how irreplaceable each of these three guys are. Very few guards could draw the defense as well as Kobe, very few bigs can force the defense to close out and have the skill to make a pin point lob as Pau, and very few centers have the athleticism to throw down anything in the vicinity of the rim, even in traffic, as Bynum.
Overall, this was a tough win by the Lakers, and in a season in which road wins are rare, it makes this one all the more worthwhile.