The Los Angeles Lakers look for their first win since the All-Star break as they begin the first of back-to-back meetings with the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite the injured finger, Kobe Bryant has stayed true to his usual pattern of playing for the last time in visiting arenas and will be ready to go tonight.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will be trying to adjust to their new roster after the news of center Marc Gasol being out for the rest of the season after his surgery to repair his broken foot.They will rely on the acquisition of Lance Stephenson to pick up the slack on offense after dropping 16 points coming off the bench in their last outing in a loss to Toronto.
The Grizzlies got it going on their first possession with a three-pointer from former Laker Matt Barnes, to which Kobe answered back with a three of his own. Memphis continued their hot start to the game by scoring on four of their next six possessions, that included another three from Barnes and quickly built a 15-4 lead at the eight-minute mark. The Lakers finally put an end to the run by scoring on three straight possessions, including consecutive buckets by Bryant on the assist from D’Angelo Russell to make it 11-22 midway through the first quarter. Both teams began to cool off after both teams traded a couple of layups to bring the score to 15-26 for Memphis. Nick Young came scorching off the bench with back-to-back three’s that his nothing but the bottom of the net, however, the Grizzlies were able to pick up the slack as they end the first quarter ahead 36-26.
Memphis struck first with a tip dunk from Brandan Wright to extend the lead to 12 before Russell got his first bucket of the game with a George Gervin Iceman-like finger roll. That sparked a flurry of buckets from both sides as they each scored on the next three possessions to make it a 34-46 game with Memphis still ahead at the nine-minute mark. The Lakers were able to slim the lead down to just five after a 10-2 run to make it 44-49 with six minutes to go in the half. The Grizzlies remained resilient though by extending the lead back to seven after three’s from Jamychal Green and P.J. Hairston. The purple and gold then answered back with consecutive three’s of their own from Clarkson and Russell before fans were treated with a vintage one-on-one matchup between Kobe and Vince Carter in which the Mamba was able to convert the turnaround jumper. But it was Memphis who would end the half ahead 67-58, their highest scoring half so far this season. Meanwhile, Russell finishes with a team-high 14 points and five assists, with all of his points coming in the second quarter.
Memphis picked up where it left off in the first half with a three-pointer from Mike Conley to extend the lead to 12. Clarkson finally got the first bucket for the Lakers two minutes in with a pullup jumper to bring the score to 61-74. Clarkson suddenly caught fire, scoring 11 of the Lakers’ next 13 points with a mix of three’s and finishes at the basket to get the Lakers within striking distance, 74-83 midway through the third quarter. Both teams then ice cold from the floor, as the game went three minutes without a single bucket field before Zach Randolph was able to convert the jumper to increase the margin 88-74. L.A. was able to answer back with a couple of buckets. However, they simply couldn’t stop Memphis from scoring as they ended the third quarter on top, 97-84.
The Lakers were able to strike first, this time, thanks to consecutive three-pointers from Lou Williams to slim the lead, 90-100. After a dunk from Wright, it was Clarkson’s turn on offense as he sank consecutive shots to give him 25 points and the margin back down to nine. But for every bucket that brought the Lakers closer, Memphis would convert one to take them further away as Wright continued to be effective in the paint, increasing the lead back to 110-97. After an 8-0 run by Memphis, the Lakers made one final surge for the win with scores on their next three possessions, capped by a three from Kobe with the score now 107-120. But it would be too little, too late as the Grizzlies went on to secure a 128-119 victory, their highest scoring total on the season.