Many had boasted that since Pau came to the Lakers, Los Angeles has only lost three in a row once. Tonight marks the second time this has happened, while it’s also the second losing streak in the past 18 games.
The Lakers traded leads with the Grizzlies 17 times until Memphis started pulling away at the beginning of the third quarter. After being down the entire second half, the Lakers’ offense was reignited by Shannon Brown’s miracle shot from downtown. Brown quickly capitalized on a block on Rudy Gay, and drove in the paint for what seemed to be an impossible jumper, smothered by defenders.
Bryant quickly went to work, bringing the game within four, but the Grizzlies kept answering with the star of the show, Mike Conley. Still, Bryant persistently attacked the basket, and eventually trimmed the lead down to two with a driving layup. It was a nostalgic scene from February 23, when Bryant dropped the clutch shot to break the hearts of many Memphis fans.
The score 96-98, Memphis ball. Conley makes a bad pass, and Gasol steals it, but the players kept moving. Where’s the timeout? With the way the offense has been rolling, I’d expected Phil Jackson to call a quick 20-second, but the Lakers drove the ball up the court where the Black Mamba was suffocated by three Grizzlies.
Still no timeouts. The ball gets kicked out to Artest who hesitates, dribbles half a step and gets blocked. There will be no heroics for Kobe tonight.
The Lakers had a chance to win the game. Or at the very least tie it, and take it to overtime, where our tired bigs can log an extra five minutes on the road. Am I a pessimist by trade? No, but the Lakers’ three-game losing streak leave little to be optimistic about.
The offense left much to be desired, as Ron was forcing shots in traffic, and Pau just couldn’t sink the shots that should have been drilled into his body. Odom only had too few touches with 7 shots in 40 minutes, while Kobe attempted an excessive 25 shots. The offensive rhythm was non-existent as the Grizzlies walked away with 11 blocks, with Gay blocking Ron’s three-pointer to top the night.
On the back court, the switch defense continues to haunt Pau, leaving open lanes for Conley to score 28 for the night, who normally averages 14.2 points. The defense didn’t kick in until the remaining two minutes of the fourth, allowing Grizzlies to hit 48.8 percent of their shots throughout the night, and a tremendous 66.7 percent from downtown.
The minutes continue to be a big issue for Pau. Caracter hasn’t proven himself to be a legitimate backup for Odom or Pau, and even Phil admits that giving Caracter more minutes could end up being detrimental to the growth of the younger player.
“They’re doing what they can do to try and help out. I hate to put a kid like Derrick [Caracter] in that situation and have him fail consistently. That’s not what we want to have done with rookies, you want to have them succeed, but I’m probably going to have to do that eventually. Let him be a body out there and let fall what may fall. Hopefully he’ll survive.” Phil Jackson said.
It seems the aftermath of the missing Andrew Bynum is beginning to rear its ugly head. If there has been a need for Bynum to come back, it’s now. Unless the Lakers bring in a replacement center to bring Pau some relief, the Lakers will continue down this spiraling descent.
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