The Lakers fell to 6 – 7 on the season as the Memphis Grizzlies bullied the Lakers all night inside the paint. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combined for 8 rebounds in comparison to the 17 boards that Z-Bo and Pau’s little brother, Marc, got.
While this might be the only team in the NBA that can boast a better down low combination than the Lakers, it was eye opening for Lakers fans to see just how ineffective our “biggest strength” was against some competition. The Grizzlies had 40 points in the paint while the Lakers mustered up only 24. Also, way too many turnovers once again as the Lakers coughed up the ball 18 times.
In Pau’s defense, he didn’t play much in the second half so his rebounding total was a little skewed, but Dwight did not seem like his usual self against Marc Gasol. Here’s an eye-opening stat for you: Only three Lakers players shot free throws last night. Either our players were settling for jump shots, afraid to drive it in against the Memphis bigs, or Memphis just played some flat out spectacular defense.
Let’s hope this loss ignites the Lakers tonight against the Mavericks because Rick Carlisle will definitely have his team prepared for a fight Saturday night in Dallas. Regardless, here are the grades for last night’s L:
Darius Morris: B+
Darius played a great game on both ends of the floor against a strong point guard in Mike Conley. He seems to thrive in the open court on transition, it’s just a shame that none of his teammates run down the court with him.
Kobe Bryant: B
Kobe shot us back into this game, but he also shot us out of this game. This is the first game of the season that Kobe was forcing things, but you can’t blame him when his partner in crime, Pau, was terrified of going down low once again. I think Kobe will be most appreciative when Steve Nash comes back and is able to make things much easier for him. He is the Mamba, but it doesn’t make sense to have your 17th year shooting guard carry the team for 82 games AND the post-season.
Metta World Peace: B+
He played the most minutes of any Laker and he also, once again, played the hardest. Metta had the tough task of guarding Rudy Gay, a guy that releases his jump shot nearly 11 feet in the air. While Metta didn’t shut Gay down, he did do a good job of containing him throughout the game while still making him work on the defensive end as well.
Pau Gasol: F
Another poor game from Pau as he was benched for a majority of the second half by Coach D in an effort to send a message to the Spaniard about his lack of energy and focus. Pau wants to complain about not getting touches in the paint when he himself doesn’t step foot in the painted area even when Dwight is on the bench. Something just isn’t clicking with Pau in regards to what his role is on this team. If you want to go in the paint and get the ball, then stop getting muscled off the block. If you don’t want to shoot 18 foot jump shots, then start cutting to the basket when you set a pick or maybe take a lesson from your little brother and start setting slip screens when your defender is over playing the pick-and-roll. Pau used to be the smartest player outside of Kobe Bryant I had ever seen wear the purple and gold in the past 20 years, but something has changed in his game and it is not boding well for the Lakers. Since D’Antoni was hired I thought Pau should have come off the bench so that he can operate down low without the presence of Dwight, but even when Dwight is on the bench Pau hasn’t made an impact. Let me make this clear, I do not want Pau Gasol to be traded from the Lakers. He is a two-time world champion and the most skilled big man in the NBA, but his soft and uncharacteristically dumb play is costing this team and may end up costing them down the line. Coach D has made it perfectly clear to the team and the fans that if Pau can’t keep up with this offense, then he will play someone else who can.
Dwight Howard: F
Dwight Howard had one defensive rebound for the entire game last night. That sentence just about sums up how disappointing Dwight was against the Memphis Grizzlies. I understand the offense was not there because the Grizzlies packed their defense inside and forced Dwight to kick out of the double team, but that does not excuse the lack of rebounds from a player that is the biggest and strongest man on the court. One last note on Dwight; Stu Lantz pointed this out as well last night: I have never seen a player get stripped of the ball when going to the basket as often as Dwight Howard does. It’s incredible how easily he is stripped by every defender, especially considering how freakishly strong Dwight is.
Antawn Jamison: A-
Antawn had his best game of the season and showed glimpses of how he can help out this bench. Antawn is a very nice compliment to Dwight as he can stretch the floor a bit and free some space for Dwight to operate down low. I still don’t like Antawn shooting 3 pointers when it’s obvious he is more effective on the block, but that may be a coaching decision and not his.
Chris Duhon: B
Duhon shot the ball fairly well last night and helped the Lakers erase a large 1st quarter deficit when he entered the game. His two-man game with Dwight was effective and I hope it continues.
Jordan Hill: N/A
This is very tough for me to say, since I love his game and the energy he brings, but this may be the beginning of the end for J. Hill under Coach D. Unless Jordan can improve his jump shot, he doesn’t really fit into this system that D’Antoni is implementing. I’d like to see Jordan get some minutes at center, but he is undersized. Perhaps he can play alongside Pau and make up for his lack of toughness, but it would be tough since teams are not afraid of Jordan’s offensive range. I think Laker Nation agrees with me when I say I hope J. Hill continues to get minutes because he is a joy to watch.
Jodie Meeks: B
Another night of decent shooting for Jodie as he was able to hit two 3-pointers late in the game. Wish we could see more of this in the first half instead of in the second half when the Lakers are down by double digits.