Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

…when O’s not strong. And the Lakers’ offense was definitely not in its finest hours this night in Memphis so thank goodness they had some good ol’ defense to rely on. It’s been a while since they’ve been able to fall back on that, but we’re sure glad they remembered how to use it.

The Memphis Grizzlies have defeated the Lakers twice this season, including a 19-point beatdown on the Staples Center floor. On the hunt for a playoff spot at the end of the season, every win from here on out is a must for Memphis, who at the moment sit at the 9th spot in the Western Conference behind the Portland Trailblazers, and one up from the Phoenix Suns, who aren’t far behind. Defeating the defending champs for a third time this season would’ve been something they could build on, but the Lakers were not having it.

The first quarter looked much like the two losses against Pau Gasol’s former team. The Lakers fell behind by as much as nine points in the first 9 ½ minutes of game time, with Mike Conley hitting all of his attempts from the field. It took an 8-4 run by the road team to get to within four points to end the quarter. Suffice it to say, the Lakers’ defense was a slow cooker. Memphis shot 55% in that first quarter for their 29 points, but that was as good as it got for the Grizzlies.

The Lakers started moving the ball and running their offense. Shannon Brown (5 points on 2-7) hit a jump shot. Then Andrew Bynum (11 points on 4-6, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks) converted a lob from Lamar Odom. Then Odom (15 points on 5-14, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks) scored on two layups in a row. Suddenly the Lakers were up two points, a lead they would never relinquish (save a few moments when the scored was tied).

The Lakers didn’t shoot particularly well in this game. In fact, they only shot 43% for the night. But the point distribution was commendable, with every starter and Odom scoring in double figures and every player who got floor time handing out at least one assist. It was a strange game offensively for the Lakers, with Bynum missing some easy hoops a few feet from the rim and even Kobe Bryant (19 points on 6-17, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), as efficient as his game has been lately, flubbed a few layups himself (the question of whether or not he was fouled is up for debate because he did get mauled on a few occasions with ne’er a whistle to recognize it). Also, Bryant’s six turnovers certainly didn’t help either.

Also something that didn’t help was the Lakers’ free throw shooting. 21-35 from the charity stripe. It’s one thing to miss a handful with that many opportunities but a dozen?! Without Bryant’s perfect 7-7, the rest of the team would’ve shot just 14-28, 50%. Even Gasol, good as he is from the line, missed four of his nine attempts.

It certainly was not the offense that pulled a win for the Lakers. It was their defense. After allowing Memphis to shoot 55% in the first quarter, the road team allowed just 23 points in the third quarter and 16 points in each of the second and fourth quarters. As for the players who killed the Lakers in that 19-point loss when the year began? Zach Randolph was held to just 2-14 for his 8 points, Mike Conley went just 5-12 for his 13 points, and Marc Gasol had just 10 points on 5-14. The leading scorers for the Grizzlies were Rudy Gay, who didn’t have as bad a shooting night with his 18 points on 7-15, and Sam Young with 22 points on 9-19, filling in a spot in the rotation for the suspended O.J. Mayo. Memphis shot just 39.8% for the night, racking up 15 turnovers (though the Lakers were no better with their 14 giveaways).

It was a rough and tumble kind of game, with Marc Gasol accidentally whacking Ron Artest (13 points on 4-11, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals) into a bloody nose, which he was absolutely NOT happy about; Andrew Bynum getting slapped in the face; and Lamar Odom hitting the ground on a few occasions.

The best things to take from this game, however, were that the Lakers didn’t let their rhythmically-challenged offense discourage their ability to win this game. They continued to run their offense, getting some uncharacteristically efficient production from behind the arc, where they went 8-16. Good things happen when a pass to the shooter begins from the inside, and the Lakers kept to form to get those good-looks from downtown. They lost a 13-point lead in the second half, but they remained poised, building and building their lead until it reached another double-digit deficit for the home team.

These last two road wins are solid victories to take into Boston in two days. It’s gamble as to which Lakers team will show up on the parquet floor, but one thing is for sure – it’ll be a battle. Some analysts have already picked the Celtics to win on Thursday, but if the defending champs show as much fight as they have in the closing minutes of the last two games, don’t count them out just yet.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
The Grizzlies have beaten the Lakers twice. Just think of how confident they’d feel if they beat them a 3rd time. Can’t look past a team who is vying for a playoff spot. The Lakers need to hold down the players who have killed them in the past, namely Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay.
Half-time Thoughts: 50-45 – The Lakers couldn’t get a hoop and they couldn’t defend a lick to start, but after allowing Memphis to shoot 55% in the first quarter, they picked up the D and the Grizzlies offense fell to 40% to end the half. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers with 10 points a piece, but Memphis’ Sam Young leads all scores with 14. The Lakers have 12 assists on 19 makes so they’re moving the ball. They need to ramp up the defense just a bit more to put this team away. Memphis can get their runs in, no doubt about it.
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Lakers’ free throw shooting. 21-35 from the charity stripe? That is, in a word, ABYSMAL. They’re lucky this game wasn’t any closer.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Lakers’ defense – The Grizzlies scored just 16 points in the second and fourth quarters. The Lakers got 12 steals and blocked seven shots.

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  • L.A

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  • Ikjyot Singh Kohli

    When Bynum played, Memphis closed in on the lead, when Bynum sat, and Gasol was the sole center, the Lakers expanded their lead, and played great D, watch the tape.

    • 242LakerFan

      Once again you have reverted to your alter ego Idjyot. Check the stats, Idjyot. Bynum was a +2 last night.

      • Angelo

        Dude, don’t be a complete ass okay, and please don’t mock people’s names, it’s disrespectful, and there’s no need to resort to that. If you want to state your point, then state your point, you can do so without this type of personal mocking.

        That being said, +2 is not a direct implication of a player’s direct actions on the game, Basketball people would know that.

      • Angelo

        The +/- stat is a statistic that looks at the point differential when players are both in and out of the game, to see how the team performs with various combinations. The +/- stat can look at a variety of combinations including the best two player, three player and even five player combinations for each game.

        So Bynum benefitted off of Kobe’s isolation.

        And just a quick question to all you Bynum lovers, if he’s so great why doesn’t Jackson play him to close the fourth quarter ever? Why as of late has Bynum just come on to give Gasol a rest?

        • 242LakerFan

          So sorry, sir, no offnse was meant, but, sir you have to admit, sir, that what the honourable Mr. Kohli described in reference to Mr. Bynum was, in fact, exactly what the +/- stat measures. It is, therefore, sir, a direct and appropriate response to Mr. Kohli’s claims. I respectfully and humbly submit myself to your gracious and learned judgement in this matter, sir.

      • Anwar

        Typical Bynum idiot. This Mexican guy must be related to Jim Buss, like is adopted son or something!!

        • 242LakerFan

          Not that there is anything wrong with it, but I am not Mexican. Since it is of such interest to you, though, my ethnicity is mixed Afro-Caribbean and Scandinavian. As for the rest, If I were an adopted son of Mr. Buss that was never made known to be by either my mother or father and certainly, they would have been hard-pressed to keep such a thing secret all these years, since there was never any benefit, financial or otherwise, forthcoming from the arrangement and this surely would have been a source of some conflict.
          I hope this has provided some insight for you, since I really do value your opinion and hope that from here forward you may elaborate in a more informed manner as to the ethnic and familial ties of myself and others here at The Lakers Nation.
          Have a nice day.

          • http://57.amklac laffs atu


            U are one one mixed up MF

            Response to
            “Since it is of such interest to you, though, my ethnicity is mixed Afro-Caribbean and Scandinavian”

          • 242LakerFan

            Yes, yes, I am.

  • KobeDaBossfrmPA

    Solid road win for the Purp N Gold…we didn’t shoot well but played some good D…My only complaint was that our free throw shooting was a joke…only I wasn’t laughing…If the game was closer that would’ve added unnecessary pressure…Drew & Missed a few chip shots at the rim that could’ve turned this into a blowout but we’ll take it…always good to see Ron Ron & Fish in double figures at the same time…Solid 2 wins to start the road trip now let’s focus & beat them Damn Celtics on Thursday…we need dat & the fans deserve it….# Purp N Gold

  • 242LakerFan

    Anna, you are doing a great job, but “ne’er a whistle…”? Classic! I love it!
    Is it my imagination or has Bynum been held back recently? 29 min. last night? I think that knee is bothering him. Not the repaired one, but the one Shaq tried to eat-errr…I mean bumped into last week. It seems like Phil is using him pretty sparingly, even guardedly, in recent games. Oh, well, more speculation isn’t going to serve much purpose here.
    Kobe seemed to be trying a little too hard last night to be he facilitator. Some of those turnovers were on plays he could have and should have finished himself. He got caught up in trying to pass just for the sake of passing. Good that he’s trying to find that balance, though.
    Pau is really getting into the whole Black Swamba role. It’s always fun watching him and Marc go at it.
    Ron has looked better the last few games too. I still wish he’d give tha ball up more, though, ,even on the open breaks. That one he blew last night looked like Uncle Max at the Y trying to relive his bygone varsity glory. He could barely get off the floor! two years ago that would have been a slam!
    Things are looking better, but there’s still that uncomfortable nagging sensation in the back of my brain. I hate not being certain that I’ll at least se 100% effort, win or lose.
    But I have faith.

  • j

    “… Lakers’ defense – The Grizzlies scored just 16 points in the second and fourth quarters…”

    They actually held the Grizz to even less, when you consider that at least 2 of those baskets in the fourth were concessions…

  • Adrian Guergio