The Lakers won their first game of the season on Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets. The mood inside the locker room has not changed. This Lakers squad follows in the foot steps of their leader and the five-time champion Kobe Bryant is not satisfied with just one win.
Kobe and company showed trust in one another against the Hornets. It was apparent that they made an effort to clear Carlos Boozer on the inside block. Jeremy Lin and Jordan Hill put themselves in position to get shots they wanted, and Bryant rewarded them.
They would need to demonstrate this same chemistry on Tuesday night in the Music City. The Memphis Grizzles were 6-1 going into this game and have looked dominant all year. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have proven to be one of the best one-two options in the NBA. In Ed Davis’s homecoming, the young man out of North Carolina would have his hands full.
The Lakers starters began the night allowing an easy layup. But Wes Johnson came out looking for his shot and hit on a fade-away falling out of bounds. Due to early offensive rebounding by the Grizzles, Zach Randolph went to the line for a couple free throws. The Lakers responded with a great defensive possession and finishing on a fast break via Carlos Boozer. After a Marc Gasol jumper, Jeremy Lin went to the bucket for a layup. The Lakers tied the game on another Boozer layup and then took the lead with a jumper by the power forward. However, the Grizzles were relentless on the inside and scored another basket in the paint to make the score 12-10 with under five minutes to go in the period. After a timeout, the Grizzles scored six straight points before Johnson woke up with a three-pointer. Kobe hit his first shot of the night with a double-clutch jumper from 17 feet. Ronnie Price and Ed Davis checked in and added energy via a Price drive and dish to Davis for a two-handed jam. With 30 seconds left Price drove into the lane and scored off of a slick spin move continuing his contribution. After a Vince Carter free throw, Boozer cleaned up a Kobe miss for his eighth points as the Lakers trailed Memphis 25-21 after 12 minutes.
The Lakers were relieved to see Xavier Henry hit his first shot of the game from the left baseline to open the quarter. On the next Lakers possession Robert Sacre scored on an impressive pump fake underneath the hoop for the easy two. After a couple of Grizzle scores, Price drove inside for a difficult layup in traffic, but the Memphis guards scored on back-to-back buckets. The Grizzles went up by ten before Johnson hit a long jumper. He responded to a Courtney Lee runner with another three for his 10th point. Halfway through the quarter the score was 42-32 Grizzles. After a Grizzles bucket, Kobe hit a three and settled back on defense to cause a steal that lead to a Boozer finish. Kobe hit his sixth and seventh points of the night on a patented fall-away and Lin hit two free throws to narrow the gap to three with under four minutes remaining in the half. Bryant stayed aggressive and attacked the rim for a missed layup, but Jordan Hill finished on a jam after the offensive board. Lin ran the fast break beautifully on two straight Lakers possessions finding Kobe and Davis for four straight Lakers points. Lin continued to attack on the break as he was fouled and went to the line to put the Lakers within four. The Lakers converted on a Grizzles turnover after a Hill clean up, but Lee hit a shot at the buzzer to send the Lakers into the locker room down 56-52.
Mike Conley started the half with a floater from about eight feet, but Johnson continued to shoot well hitting another three. The Grizzles point guard hit another shot to put the Grizzles up by five as Kobe struggled from the field on 4-13 shooting. Lin answered Conley’s scoring with a layup of his own for his seventh point of the night. Randolph was a force on the inside scoring on a layup, but Kobe and Boozer scored on back-to-back baskets. On the next possession, the Lakers converted on a perfect give-and-go courtesy of Hill and a Lin finish to tie the game at 64. Kobe hit his 15th points of the night, but the Grizzles came right back with a Conley three which resulted in a four-point play due to a Hill foul. To add salt to the wound, Byron Scott was issued a technical foul for another Grizzles free throw. Memphis pulled away making the score 73-66 with four minutes left in the period. Kobe took advantage of a loose ball by going around his back for the pretty finish to give his team some life, but the Lakers were still down seven. The Grizzles were up by ten when Hill cleaned up yet another Lakers miss and Kobe hit a pair of free throws. Vince Carter put in meaningful minutes hitting two critical shots. To end the quarter Hill put back another miss with a baby-hook to make the score 83-75.
Lin hit a huge three to cut the Grizzlies lead to eight, but Memphis responded with an easy layup to open the quarter. Boozer hit his 15th points on a long jumper and Davis hit a hook shot off of a spin move inside. With eight minutes left Price turned the ball over for a Conley layup that put the Grizzles up 95-82 for the biggest lead of the night. The game began to get away from the Lakers with yet another turnover putting the Grizzles up by 16. Kobe missed his 13,418th career shot with six minutes left in the game to break the record for most missed shots in NBA history. Boozer scored his 20th points off the night and Hill went to the charity stripe for one of two to make the score 101-88. Kobe hit a three on the next Lakers offensive trip to cut the lead to ten with over four minutes to go in the game. Kobe found Hill inside for a tough shot inside and on the next possession found Hill again on the pick and roll for a dunk. The Lakers continued to battle as a Kobe Bryant three-pointer cut the lead to three with under two minutes remaining. Conley hit two free throws and the Grizzlies got a stop, but the Lakers got a steal and Johnson slammed home a dunk to get the Lakers back within three with only 37 seconds remaining. Still down three, Jordan Hill missed an open shot and Randolph scored on the other end to ice the victory for the Grizzlies as they would get the win 107-102.
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