The Lakers beat the Grizzlies 124-105 to start the season 4-0 and dominated nearly every statistical category. They started the game sharp and carried that through the entire first half to build a lead that could only be dented, not overcome by the visiting Grizz. Below are a few numbers that stood out to me from the Lakers’ second consecutive blowout win:
*128.0 was the Lakers’ offensive efficiency for the evening. That number represents one of the higher numbers that I can remember from a Laker group in some time and is actually much lower than the 166.6 rating the team posted at halftime of this game. Basically, the Lakers dominated on offense. Whether sinking outside jumpers or getting easy buckets inside, the Grizzlies had no answer for what the Lakers were doing on that side of the ball. And it can all be traced back to the tremendous spacing the Lakers exhibited for most of the game. On nearly every possession the Lakers positioned themselves in a manner that made it extremely difficult for the Grizzlies to mark their man while still giving the needed help to over-matched defenders. This was especially the case whenever Kobe had the ball as he often had a lot of room to operate at the mid post to take O.J. Mayo one on one and score himself to dish to an open teammate. Just tremendous execution by the team in the home gold.
*Speaking of Kobe, 26 was the number of minutes he played tonight. That’s after playing only 27 against the Warriors on Sunday. Kobe’s been saying that his knee is fine and after the way he moved around the court today I believe him. But one of the reasons that he can look as fresh as he does is because his minute count is so low. Through 4 games he hasn’t played over 37 minutes once – and that was opening night – after averaging nearly 39 minutes a game last season. This more rested Kobe is able to play efficient offense which in turn makes his low minute count even less stressful as he’s not expending nearly as much energy to get his points. If there was ever a recipe for success for Kobe what we’re seeing is it. (On a side note, Kobe seemed determined to take it to O.J. Mayo tonight. He repeatedly took him down to the mid post and bullied him with strong back downs and then finessed him with a fantastic array of drop steps, inside pivots, jab steps, and face up jumpers. I’m really not sure what happened in these two guys’ past to make Kobe go as hard as he does against Mayo, but it’s been the trend ever since the former USC product entered the league.)
*14-23 was the connect rate on three pointers for the Lakers. That’s 61% from long range. The aforementioned Kobe made 3 of 5 (including 2 deep heat check 3’s that brought the crowd to its feet). Fisher was 2 for 3. Blake and Shannon combined to go 5 for 5. Even Odom got in on the act by make 3 of his 4 attempts from distance. Needless to say, when the Lakers shoot the long ball this well, they are not going to lose. Their interior play is already too good to truly stop, but if teams can’t double team to the post without paying for it with made 3’s the Lakers are essentially unbeatable.
*10th fastest to 11 thousand points, 6 thousand rebounds, and 3 thousand assists. That’s now a claim that Lamar Odom can make. Those that follow this site know my affinity for Lamar, but these numbers just show the type of all around talent that he truly is. Tonight that talent was on full display as he did a little bit of everything for the Lakers in his 34 minutes of action. He scored 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting. He grabbed 8 rebounds and had 6 assists. Best of all, he led the team in plus/minus with a staggering +28 on the night. Congrats to Lamar for reaching this milestone as quickly as he has.
*16/14/2/1/1 is a stat line that we’re all accustomed to seeing on this team. But typically it’s Odom or Gasol or even Kobe that’s putting up a gaudy line like that. However, against the Grizz, it was Matt Barnes’ statistical output on the night. That’s right, Matt Barnes scored 16 points, grabbed 14 rebounds (9! offensive), and had 2 dimes with a steal and a block for good measure. Just like against the Warriors, Barnes showed that he’s a more than capable back up on a night where Artest (again) struggled to score and didn’t have his best defensive night against a very good Rudy Gay (30 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block). I can’t say this enough, but it sure is nice to have a back up small forward again.
*Not all the numbers were positive for the Lakers, though. They committed 19 turnovers on the night, directly leading to 23 points for the Grizz. The Lakers also gave up 15 offensive rebounds, a number that can be explained away by the Grizzlies high number of missed shots but is still a bit high. The Lakers also surrendered 46 points in the paint and allowed Memphis to race out to 22 fast break points. So while the Lakers won handily, this game could have been an even bigger blowout had the team not let it’s guard down in the second half and let sloppiness ensue for most of the 4th quarter.
But in the end, this was a blowout win and I’ll take that every day of the week. While it may be too early for Phil Jackson to say that this team is off to a fast start, to these eyes they’re rolling. Tomorrow night they get their first back to back as a test, but with the low number of minutes that most of the starters played against the Grizz the team should be well rested. It’s tough to find too much fault with this team right now and, for now at least the only number that I’m concerned about are the ones that say 4 and 0 in the win and loss columns.