This is not a kneejerk reaction to the Lakers’ 102-96 loss at Staples to the Memphis Grizzlies. This was, after all, the first time in three tries this season that the Grizz have beat the Lake Show. Of course it was also the first time Memphis has been anywhere near full-strength in any of the three meetings. That’s’ why this should be a wakeup call for the Lakers.
Last time the Lakers had to work overtime to win in Memphis. This time the Grizzlies took away any drama.
Every time L.A. made a run to get back into this contest Lionel Hollins’ squad had an answer. Mike Brown pretty much conceded defeat by benching Kobe Bryant for most of crunch time. When Brown finally realized he had the best finisher in the game buried at the end of his bench this one was in the refrigerator.
For all intents and purposes this was a playoff preview. If the postseason were to start now then this is the best of seven series we’d see in the first round. I’m here to tell you there is no way the Lakers can matchup with Memphis. Not when the Grizzlies play that patented tough defense. Not when Zach Randolph has that deadly mid-range game going. Not when Rudy Gay is slashing and spotting up. Not when O.J. Mayo maximizes every second he gets on the court.
Memphis has too much depth for the Lakers to handle. Now that Ramon Sessions is starting we’re back to the same old invisible second unit that has been wearing purple and gold all season long.
To be sure Andrew Bynum is indefensible these days which is saying something when you consider the size and defensive prowess Memphis possesses. Drew’s dominant 30 points were matched by an inexplicable 4 rebounds. Bynum’s effort on the boards best summed up how this game was lost.
L.A. never matched the intensity the Grizzlies showed up with. Even more confounding is that 24 hours ago the Clippers handed the same Memphis team a terrible L not to mention they were in the middle of a losing streak.
That streak came to an end thus the same line of questioning can begin again for the Lake Show.
Kobe’s unreal benching couldn’t even be blamed on another poor shooting performance. While he was collecting splinters his shooting percentage was at 50% with 18 points in the box score. When asked why Bryant got a prolonged view Coach Brown only said “I made a sub”. Huh? What?
Yet another question without a proper answer. But we’ve become accustomed to that this year.
With regards to answers the Lakers have none for a team that boasts of 7 players in double figures. Yeah…the day the Lakers can get that type of balance will be the day Steve Blake and Metta World Peace start picking up the slack. With Sessions in the mix the Lakers aren’t relying on Kobe, Drew and Pau Gasol to do it all. Ramon dropped a smooth 18 on only 9 shots and dished out 5 dimes. Pretty standard stuff for Sessions. Gotta love the upgrade he’s been so far.
Even with the Sessions effect the same shortcomings are being exposed by teams like Memphis. L.A. is much better with a true point guard running the show. No doubt about that. But that doesn’t change anything if no defense is being played and no effort is being given. At least not enough D to slow an athletic squad like Memphis and not enough effort to match a team hungry for the playoff push.
The postseason is all about matchups. This we know. After tonight we also know this is not a matchup that favors the Lakers. For L.A.’s sake they’d better hope this loss helps to get Memphis out of their bracket. Otherwise we will be looking at a one and done for the Lakers if they draw this pairing.