With the inevitable looking likely to occur again, the Lakers dug deep, dug their way out of a 17-point hole and gutted out their grittiest road win of the season. You can claim this win wasn’t as impressive given the Memphis Grizzlies were without Rudy Gay and are still awaiting the return of Zach Randolph. But that ignores how truly talented and disciplined this Memphis team is plus it overlooks the heart the Lakers showed in a hard fought battle.
No matter the particulars the result is the only thing that will show up in the standings. It took two overtimes, some seriously clutch moments and all kinds of heart for the Lake Show to roll though Memphis and come out with a thrilling 116-111 victory.
This one nearly got away from L.A. in the third. The Grizzlies were getting big buckets from Marreese Speights and Marc Gasol who combined for 45 points and 18 rebounds. That production from their post players combined with some seriously tough defense painted the Lakers into a corner.
On the night the Grizzlies forced 18 L.A. turnovers that resulted in some cheap points. The turnover issues continue to plague the Lakers but they showed real focus in overcoming their ball security issues.
Slowly but surely the Memphis lead was whittled down until the Masked Mamba struck. KB24 buried a clutch three to tie this one at 95. That would force the first OT. Once the second one started a back and forth battle ensured.
L.A. jumped out to a five point lead in the first OT and then promptly fell behind by 6. However Mike Brown rode the rejuvenated legs of Kobe as he logged a game-high 51 minutes. Bryant attacked the hoop, got to the rim and got to the line. Kobe continues to roll back the clock while the Lakers are springing forward. In the first half Kobe had a vintage blow by of O.J. Mayo finished with a vicious dunk. Later in the clutch Mamba made a sleek move to the hole finished by a smooth reverse in traffic. He also forced the Grizzlies to pick their poison.
While Mamba was busy posting some of his 34 points in the box score it was the beast Andrew Bynum that did major damage.
Bynum blistered Memphis going for an astounding 37 and 16, earning every single bucket and rebound against a physical Grizzly group. Perhaps most impressive of all was Andrew’s free throw shooting. When your big man is making 7 of his 8 freebees (even if he did bank one in) it creates a conundrum for the defense.
Memphis couldn’t contain both Drew and Kobe. So when they finally decided to concentrate on one those two Pau Gasol quietly slipped in with a monster dunk that helped to force the second OT.
On the night Pau was outplayed by his All-Star brother. None the less it was a pay it forward kind of deal for the Lakers’ big three. Kobe gave it up to Pau on a big bucket and Pau, in turn, later threw a perfect lob to Bynum that went a long way in securing this win.
Make no mistake. This win didn’t mask an of L.A. issues. The Lakers’ shortcomings were still on full display tonight. Their bench was better but still got outplayed by Memphis. The turnovers were downright ugly with many occurring in crucial situations. What most impressed about this win was the desire to do however. Nothing was going to prevent the Lakers from getting a W tonight. Proof once again that effort trumps all. It was not a thing of beauty but the end result was something to behold.
Performances like this will hopefully fuel the Lake Show going forward. We’ll see soon enough as L.A. touches down in the Big Easy where the face the Hornets in less than 24-hours. They’ll be tired no doubt but hopefully motivated enough to carry this momentum forward. Winning in Memphis was big for many reasons not the least of which was getting some separation from a formidable Western Conference foe. Like everything else related to the Lakers this season nothing came easy but how else would you want this team to win? They’ve got plenty to prove and not a lot of time left to do so.
On occasion we get glimpses of that champion’s heart still beating. The Lakers have a pulse, now all that remains is for them to start thriving instead of simply showing occasional signs of life.