The (42-14) Los Angeles Lakers are in Tennessee to face the (28-27) Memphis Grizzlies.

It was great to see the team compete without Kobe and continue to win games in his absence. If I was told that Kobe would miss five games before the All-Star break and that the Lakers would post a 4-1 record at Trailblazers, Spurs, at Jazz, Warriors, and against the team from Massachusetts – - I’d gladly accept that.

However after 18 days, all indications are that the difference maker and team leader will return to the lineup tonight.

Tonight’s game will mark another milestone  as Kobe finally records his career 1,000th game; he will also break the NBA record set by Kevin Garnett and become the youngest player to play 1,000 NBA games.

What we’ve seen in Bryant’s absence from the Lakers was a disciplined more team focused approach which was expected with the system utilized as well as still having veteran players in the lineup. Those players stepped their game up and accepted the challenge of being tasked with shouldering more of the scoring load.

The approach the team used without Bryant wasn’t surprising the way the team played and executed in his absence was, excluding the end of the game against the team from Massachusetts when the Purple and Gold ruined an excellent defensive performance and allowed a sure win to get away from them.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if Kobe plays against the old green clad crew the Lakers win in a blowout and sweep the season… again.

There has been a lot of strange talk nationally that the team has played better without Bryant. I understand the argument based on the results, but it is still crazy.

Tonight you will see the best of both worlds; a disciplined team focused approach, led by one of the games greatest players in Kobe Bryant.

The Grizzlies aren’t playing their best basketball dropping seven of their last 10 games; they’re 18-10 at home.

Memphis is a talented young team that possesses the inside power of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay as well as the speed and perimeter scoring of O. .Mayo and Mike Conley.

In the last game of this series Kobe scored 44 points and the Lakers lost 95-93. The frontline of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom off the bench has played well averaging 49.6 points and 33 rebounds, but needs to remain aggressive. The post players should receive more than enough touches to be highly effective in this game.

The Lakers needs to continue to play solid defense, control the tempo, limit the Grizzlies opportunity’s to get out in transition and score easy fast break baskets. The Lakers are getting healthy and starting a playoff push. The rotations are getting shorter although there will some adjustments without Luke and Sasha.

The trade deadline has passed; some people have gotten off of the bandwagon and have basically written off the Lakers as a team capable of repeating. The Lakers aren’t playing their best basketball; they have lost several winnable games this season, but still have amassed 42 wins and are still in the running for home court advantage throughout the playoffs. A message for anyone writing off the Lakers too soon — we’ll see you in June.

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • Memphis: Fox Sports TN (Pete Pranica & Sean Tuohy)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: ESPN 710 AM (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Memphis: 103.5 FM (Eric Hasseltine & Hank McDowell)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, right index finger)
  • Sasha Vujacic (Shoulder Sprain) Out
  • Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back) Out

Grizzlies:

  • PF Darrel Arthur (Right Pectoralis Surgery) Out
  • LA Lakers best Franchise of the World

    Lets go Lakers!!!

  • keepon_keepinon18

    Kobe 34 points for #13 on the All-time NBA Scoring list!

    I am interested in seeing how Pau and Drew match up with Marc and Zach. Its going to be a physical and relentless match-up. Also, Lamar Odom needs to continue to rebound at high rate he has been (mainly for 2nd chance points) and has to stay aggressive. The rotations will be a little switched with Kobe having to play SF some time.

    Go Lakers! The whole team needs to stay aggressive, play together, and contest the Grizzlies’ outside shot.

  • 242LakerFan

    Hey, Keepon, I have to back you up on every point you just made.
    I really want to see specifically if Pau can handle the hermanito better than last time. That was embarrassing. I hope Lamar does not return to his more docile style now Kobe is back. He needs to lead the bench by his attitude, aggressively pounding the boards and laying down vicious driving dunks like that one that nearly ended Ray Allen’s career.
    Yeah, add Kobe to what this team was doing the last five games and we’re worldbeaters, baby!
    LWO-4Life, baby!!!

  • WifelovesLuke

    “against the team from Massachusetts” LMAO
    .
    .
    .
    I don’t know about you guys but I’m rooting for an LA vs “the team from Massachusetts”. Then we won’t have to continue to listen to all of the rediculous Cav fans and we can exact some revenge. I like the sound of winning #16 against “against the team from Massachusetts”. lol

  • BE_A_LakerFan

    Lol @ “the team from Massachusetts”. I want revenge on said team as well. Ever since we lost to them I’ve been waiting for a chance for revenge (the Christmas game was nice the season after), but I want a Finals rematch. I want them to beat Queen James and then I want Queen James to leave the Cavs so all the bandwagon Cavs fans can stfu. Hope it happens that way, but might be wishful thinking.

    • TOUCHING_MYSELF

      I’m with you on all three points: for the team from “BASTARD-CHUSETTS” to beat that drag-queen LeBrick down, for that crying punk åss to leave that sh!t hole of a town, “WASTELAND”, and that their bandwagon inbred fans to STFU, and finally, for the Lakers to exact revenge on the FCUKIN CELD!CKS! “FCUK THE CELD!CKS FROM COCKSTON BASTARD-CHUSETTS”! FCUK THEM ALL!

      GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!
      GO KOBE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • drive-for-16th

    everyone needs to keep playing like they were when kobe was out or else they need to be smacked up a lil bit.

  • Ruin818

    Kobe just needs to transiton and fit into what the lakers were doing… I know he’s the best that we have but if everyone continues to play like they did when he was out and you “add” kobe into the mix and not “replace” kobe with what was clearly working… we’re pretty much unbeatable…

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    how come this was never a prob for MR JORDAN,OR LEBRONZE…………………….golakers

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      i just wanna know how a person can be as stupid,as to mention that nobody!in the same sentence as kobe and mike.those two have ten(10) titles between them.you are a dipshit! you sound like you should be playing barbies.

    • 242LakerFan

      110

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    KOBE is really a strong leader,his defense on MAYO is amazing!@!!The lakers play great team DEFENSE when KOBE and FISH are killing memphis ……MEMPHIS should just call uncle when KOBE THE GREAT IS PLAYING……………………

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      lebron will also cry uncle!

    • LGM10

      Charles Barkley
      .
      Why the h*** r u on here all the time? if u hate the lakers so much go to a cavs blog and stfu

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    GOLAKERS………..

  • expo

    F.Y.I: Kobe isn’t the one missing all these free throws and taking all these crappy shots… How are people gonna blame this one on him?

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    its not the lakers when he`s out there, its 4 guys and kobe , give me the damn ball bryant…….the hero.

    • expo

      thats right!!!!… give me the damn ball and watch what i do with it…. DAGGER!!!!!!!!!

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      dont you wish lebron could play an finish like the great kobe bryant well lebron will never be on a kobe level are we clear now?what a finish!!! dont ya think?

    • 242LakerFan

      111

  • BE_A_LakerFan

    Kobe does it again. How many clutch shots will he make this year? What’s that like 6 now?

    • 242LakerFan

      That’s five this year. I don’t know why anyone else’s name is even on the list for MVP. I mean that’s the definition of MVP, right?

      • BE_A_LakerFan

        Right. Kobe should have just came in for the final seconds of the Celtics game lol. Should be an interesting game against the Thuggets this week (and Dallas).

        Go Lakers!

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    without that bitch ,they win buy 10 pts….you guys miss the three shots he had stuffed back in his face……..

    • 242LakerFan

      112

      • LGM10

        whats up with u and numbers???/

        • 242LakerFan

          Charles Barkley there used to be “1 Million Misses”, spouting all this idiotic Kobe-hating crap and I finally figured that the name meant that he was trying to reach 1 million posts without approaching anything like reality. I’m just keeping a running total.
          It’s just an approximation.

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      dont you wish lebron could play an finish like the great kobe bryant well lebron will never be on a kobe level are we clear now?what a finish!!! dont ya think? lepunk will never or never can be a kobe or mike in any way

    • eff

      As much of a fag Charles Barkley is, he’s right. I’m tired of these close games.

      • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

        so?what’s your solution then? bench or trade the greatest player ever

  • http://youtube.com/mrterrific100 Mr Terrific

    Kobe Begins

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    thanks to all of his misses, he made it much closer of a game than when he`s playing TEAM BALL…..THAT WAS A LUCKY MAYO MISS….SHOULD BE FUN IN DALLAS.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thejahjah Green Flannel

      Excuses, excuses. Just accept the fact you are hating on the greatest player in the NBA and one of the greatest closers in sports history.

    • 242LakerFan

      113

  • drive-for-16th

    On The Beat they all said that Lebron is the MVP, those idiots don’t appreciate greatness like Kobe, they just look at the numbers. Fuk the NBA if they don’t give Kobe the MVP thsi year. HE FUCKING DESERVES IT.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thejahjah Green Flannel

      he doesn’t deserve it. if kobe doesn’t play we go 4-1. LeBlowjob doesn’t play who knows what kind of losing streak they’d be on. LeBron is more valuable to his sorry team. Kobe makes this team even greater than what they are which is the most elite team of the past two years. Kobe and LeBron would make any team better if they were on it. But they cavs are good primarily because lebron is on it and he plays well. just because kobe is better and so is his team the lakers can go 5 games against good teams without him. Well, LeBron and the Cavaliers cannot even beat the Bobcats. There you go.
      Kobe is the GOAT but the cavs need LeBron or no finals appearance for them.

  • http://57.amklac Charles Barkley

    gay cardigan, you take the ballwash to new levels…you just beat MEMPHIS bye uno points!!memphis!wow!this is after the kobe took a two weak punk nonwarrior VACATION!!!They should of knocked them out bye halftime but your hero kept missing shot after shot after shot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/thejahjah Green Flannel

      Can’t argue there, the Memphis Grizzlies stayed in the game but don’t you DARE blame this on Kobe, 13-19 32 points only 3 FTA and 3 Made kobe has done it all. He went 68% shooting. Have you done your research or all those clutch threes just count as a miss for you?

      My name is Green Flannel, not gay cardigan, I don’t call you other names because that is unintelligent of me and i have better ways to put you down, by using facts! Have you ever played sports? His ankle injury is serious and I play 6th man for my varsity squad (i am a freshman) so you can’t get me there. From what i know if you cannot push off your ankle it is a good 4-6 weeks rest. He was gone for like 18 days(correct me if i am wrong) and isn’t 90% yet but he can push off efficiently so that is good enough for him.

      On a final note; not only is Kobe Bryant my hero but he is our (laker fans) hero and without him you haters would be very bored of licking LeBron’s nuts. Trust me we are lucky to be in an era where to great scorers and leaders can compete at the highest stage for the best achievement yet; a championship ring. We all know Lebron needs..wants one.

      Why doesn’t the king have a ring? You got a fiery intense put down that a five-year old can easily construe??

    • 242LakerFan

      114

      • hello world

        what does that mean?

        • hello world

          nvm i got it

  • expo

    Let lebron continue to collect the regular season MVP…. It’ll all look ridiculous as Kobe is parading down Figueroa with yet another Finals MVP!!!! The MVP trophy has lost credibility anyways…. Even Larry Bird said so!!!