On a night when he passed the logo, Mr. Jerry West as the Los Angeles Lakers' career scorer, Kobe Bryant couldn't lift his team to victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite 44 from Kobe, the Lakers lost 95-93.
The Lakers looked a step slow all night. This was the last of an eight-game, 13-day road trip and they were coming off of a grueling game against the Celtics last night. The Grizzlies had lost two in a row and were bound to bounce back. Everything pointed to a Grizzlies' win. Andrew Bynum was completely ineffective. He blew a dunk in the third quarter and didn't connect on his first field goal until the fourth quarter. Pau Gasol also had a subpar game shooting just seven times and finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Grizzlies front line of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay had a great day. Randolph showed why he's an All-Star scoring 22 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Marc Gasol had just 11 points but on five shots and also had a big effect on the defensive end. And Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies in scoring with 25 points.
But despite all the negatives, the Lakers were given hope at the end of each of the first three quarters. In the first it was Gay who thought time was running out and launched a shot from behind halfcourt. There was still six seconds left on the clock and the shot ricocheted off to Jordan Farmar who got it ahead to Bryant who hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 24.
In the second quarter the Lakers were down 11 with just over two minutes to go and due to a lack of composure by the Grizzlies managed to cut it to just two points at the half. Both O.J. Mayo and Randolph picked up technical fouls and Hamed Haddadi fouled Bryant on a three-pointer with four seconds remaining. Bryant hit just one of the three free throws, but it cut the lead to 52-50.
The Grizzlies had caused the letdowns at the end of the first and second quarters, but in the third it was the officials that seemed to help the Lakers out. With 2:03 left and the Lakers trailing 68-64, Lamar Odom forced a tie-up but it definitely looked like a foul. The Lakers secured the jump ball and Bryant banked in a three-pointer (not on purpose). Then, on the other end it looked like the ball was tipped out of bounds by the Lakers but the officials called it out on the Grizzlies. This led to Gasol hitting one of two free throws. Farmar hit a three to give the Lakers the 71-70 lead through three quarters. The Lakers were 28-1 when leading after three quarters before tonight.
In the fourth though, the Lakers luck ran out. During about a three minute stretch from 3:45 until :52 seconds with the game within a couple points, Bryant didn't get a shot for six possessions. The Lakers looked elsewhere and it did not work out.
But despite many errors and sloppy play all night, they were right in the game. Mike Conley missed a pair of free throws and the Lakers had the ball down two points with 20 seconds remaining. Of course Kobe is going to take the shot, right? He was covered well by Marc Gasol of all people, and he rose up and hit Ron Artest on the right side behind the three-point line. Artest had hit six of his eight shots including two three-pointers but couldn't hit the game-winner and the Lakers lost, 95-93. It's a game where you know Kobe made the right decision passing to the open Artest but in hindsight you wish he had just pulled the trigger himself.They finally get to return to Los Angeles and will play the Bobcats on Wednesday night. They finish the road trip at a respectable 5-3 but it could have been much better. If the Raptors weren't bailed out by a bad call, the Lakers would've won that game and if the Lakers had hit their free throws last night, they would've beat the Grizzlies. The Lakers hit 17 of 27 from the line including five misses by Kobe who is an 82 percent free-throw shooter.