Lakers hang tough, but Memphis comes away with 99-93 victory

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Excruciatingly close, but no cigar.The Lakers on Wednesday night took on the high-flying Memphis Grizzlies. On paper, it figured to be a blowout as the Lakers entered 3-11, the Grizzlies 12-2.Memphis also brought with it one of the most dangerous big-man tandems in post Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph.“Those two big guys over there play a very physical brand of basketball,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Gasol and Randolph prior to tip-off. “They don’t play above the rim, but they do everything well.” The Lakers gave Randolph, Gasol and the rest of the Grizzlies all they wanted for the entire game. But Memphis buckled down and came away with a 99-93 victory over the Lakers before a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center.The Lakers were within 97-93 and had the ball, but Kobe Bryant turned it over with about 15 seconds to play and the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley hit two free throws for the game’s final points.The Lakers led 26-21 after one quarter and 51-46 at halftime. The Grizzlies out-scored the Lakers 34-23 in the third to take an 80-74 lead into the fourth.Bryant led the Lakers (3-12) with 22 points and was 5 of 15 from the field. Bryant, whose tired legs have been a point of conversation of late, did not take his first shot until there was 3:30 left in the second quarter. The 36-year-old came in averaging a team-leading 35.7 minutes. He played 35:16 Wednesday.Jeremy Lin contributed 14 points, Nick Young had 13 and Jordan Hill and Ronnie Price each scored 11. Hill had seven rebounds, Ed Davis led the Lakers with eight off the bench; he also had three blocks.center_img Gasol and Conley scored 19 points apiece to lead Memphis (13-2), which is tied with Toronto for the best record in the league. Gasol also had 11 rebounds. Randolph scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Six of the Lakers’ 12 losses have come by seven points or less. But Scott said he is not into moral victories.“Not really,” he said. “Again, that’s a very good basketball team over there. We played extremely hard tonight … but we had just one bad spill, and that was the third quarter. At halftime I told the guys they were going to ramp it up, so they’ve gotta be ready to ramp it up as well.“And they (the Grizzlies) did. They came out much more aggressive defensively and took us out of our offense a little bit more, got us on our heels and that was the difference in the game.”It was pointed out to Scott that Bryant did not take his first shot until the last few minutes of the first half. Scott didn’t seem to take anything from that.“He was letting the offense just work,” Scott said. “We got off to a good start in the first half. He was trying to be a facilitator as much as possible.”Bryant most certainly is not into almost winning games. But he did agree that a performance like this against a fine team gives him some hope that perhaps his team is not that far away from winning.“Yeah, yeah, you know, we played very well,” he said. “We moved the ball well, we played solid defense. They’ve just got a lot of talent over there and their talent came through for them.”Then again …“It’s just as frustrating no matter how many times we lost by seven points or less,” Bryant said. “I mean, it’s not like we have levels of frustration. It’s either all or nothing.”Prior to the game, Scott said he wanted to try and get Bryant some rest during games.“Still trying to figure it out,” Scott said. “This is the first time we’ve had to try to figure out a situation like this with Kobe. I’m learning him as he’s learning me. We want him out on the floor as much as possible. He gives you the best chance to win. But you also have to understand you need to give the guy some time to rest as well.“I have to figure out that fine line between those two and come up with more of a game plan to get him rest so in the second half he can fresher.”Afterward, Bryant had his feet in ice. But he had a positive thought about his legs.“I definitely feel better,” he said.Lin, who had 13 of his 14 points in the first half, seemed like he wanted to take some of the blame for the offense stagnating in the third quarter, when the Lakers were out-scored by 11 points.“Yeah, I think they definitely stepped it up defensively,” Lin said of the Grizzlies. “It’s my job as the point guard to figure out how do I counter what they did and how do I take their aggression and use it against them.”Memphis coach David Joerger said his team didn’t play with enough urgency in the first half, especially on defense.“The lack of aggressiveness was all at the defensive end and that’s what we hang our hats on,” he said. “We weren’t very aggressive. They kind of did what they wanted offensively.”last_img

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