Tonight isn’t just about the low points (though there were many to choose from) and it definitely isn’t just about the high points (not for the Lakers anyway). We’ve rattled off stats all season long; analyzing, to death, every box score, every debate on ESPN, every interview on sports talk radio, but in the end, we still have no answers for the Lakers’ disappointing season.
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of many teams this season who have taken their turn at beating the purple and gold off the Lakers’ jerseys. Not even early foul trouble for the home team could help the visitors from taking advantage.
First Quarter – It’s the most active on both sides of the court that the Lakers have looked in a while. They forced five Memphis turnovers, foul trouble for four players (including their starting and back-up centers) and the Grizzlies only shot 39%. Kobe Bryant went 5-6 from the field for his 12 points to lead the game, and it looked like it would be a competitive game throughout…until the second quarter.
In the second quarter, the Lakers reverted back to their old selves, allowing a 35-point, 59% shooting quarter for Memphis. Mike Conley went off for 13 points on 6-7 and by halftime, the home team led 59-50. With just over two minutes left in the first half, Dwight Howard, who had been playing actively from the onset, re-aggravated his shoulder and left the game, never to return to the floor. It just keeps getting worse, doesn’t it folks?
The second half was all Memphis, who only outscored the Lakers by four points, but killed the visitors in the paint and on the offensive glass. The Lakers were outscored in the paint 60-34 and 24-3 on second chance points for the game. They were outrebounded 52-34, including 16 offensive boards for the Grizzlies, who led by as much as 21 points.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol sat side by side on the Laker bench as the last few minutes of tonight’s game counted down to yet another loss. Their blank stares saying more than their voices in a closed team meeting could ever reveal. Three years ago, a loss like this would empower the duo to dominate the next game, and inspire their team to follow suit. Unfortunately, one has been babysitting the new center, and the other has been relegated to the bench. Both are running out of things to say about their team’s struggles, and who can blame them? Coach Mike D’Antoni cancelled practice tomorrow, perhaps sensing his team’s exhaustion, or needing a break from his own. A calling out for a new season, a new beginning was a nice gesture. When you’re 17-25 into the season, however, there isn’t enough time to keep starting over.