Tuesday, Feb. 23—8 p.m. ET
FedEx Forum, Memphis
Lakers favored by five points.
Los Angeles may still be without Kobe Bryant, but they are an impressive 4-1 without their star player. The Grizzlies, once looking like a threat, have dropped out of the playoffs and are looking for answers.
The Week That Was: Lakers
The Lakers opened the second half of a season with a win, handily defeating the Golden State Warriors 104-94. The Lakers improved to 4-0 without Kobe Bryant, who is still battling an ankle injury.
It was Shannon Brown who took the reigns as the Lakers star player, scoring a career high 27 and adding 10 rebounds; his first career double-double. The Lakers dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Warriors 53-36 (Lamar Odom led L.A. with 18). Although Bryant was still sitting, the Lakers did welcome back Andrew Bynum back in the lineup after the starter missed a pair of games with an injury. Bynum scored 21 in his return.
Los Angeles followed that up with a rare loss at home, dropping an 87-86 decision to the Boston Celtics. Still without Bryant, the Lakers lost for the first time in their current run without No. 8.
LA was undone by poor shooting around the court, only knocking down 40.2 percent of their field goals, 64 percent of their free throws, and 25 percent of their three-pointers. The Lakers only managed one field goal in the final 7:14 of play.
The Week That Was: Grizzlies
Memphis began their post all-star break play by losing their fifth straight, 109-95 to the Phoenix Suns. The Grizzlies were outscored 58-32 in the paint, and only managed 35.6 percent shooting from the field. Memphis actually had a lead after the first quarter, but was outscored by 11 in the second and could never recover.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Grizz partook in a back-and-forth game, eventually beating the Toronto Raptors 109-102 in overtime. Memphis opened the game on a 13-0 run and held Toronto to just 16 points in the first quarter. The Raps made a valiant effort to force OT, but that’s where Rudy Gay stepped in. Gay scored eight points in the extra frame on 4-of-5 shooting.
Two days after playing an OT game, Memphis played in another marathon game, this time losing 100-87 to the Miami Heat in double overtime. The Grizzlies made a game of it after being down by 18 at one point, but could never really get into a solid groove with their shooting.
Only once in regulation did Memphis score over 20 points in a quarter; they shot 38.2 percent overall in the game.
On Sunday, the Grizzlies found themselves in an embarrassing predicament; down 18 to the New Jersey Nets. Luckily for Memphis they were able to claw back and win 104-94.
Outlook and Pick
Even without Bryant, the Lakers are still one of the more dangerous teams in the league. Players like Brown, Gasol, Bynum and Odom are more than capable of carrying a team, a scary notion for the rest of the league.
The same depth cannot be said for Memphis. Although Rudy Gay (averaging over 22 points/7 boards since ASG) and Zach Randolph (West-leading 38 double doubles) are playing fantastically, the rest of the Grizz simply aren’t contributing. The bench has been outscored 96-25 in their last three games. The Lakers have too much depth for Memphis to counter.
My Pick: Los Angeles Lakers