A different day and a different pace but still a win for the Memphis Grizzlies as they outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers after a strong first half, ending up on the winning side of a tight 108-103 game on Wednesday (Feb. 26th) at FedExForum.
The Grizzlies had just split back-to-back games, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Friday (102-96) then losing to the Charlotte Bobcats on the road on Saturday 89-92.
The last time the Los Angeles Lakers were in town All-Star Kobe Bryant got injured. Bryant hasn't returned. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have welcomed back defensive-minded guard Tony Allen for his third game.
Memphis dominated the first half, mounting a 19-point lead (65-46) and setting a season-high for first-half scoring. They triggered 19 assists, which marked the most Grizz assists made in any half this season.
Then came second half. The Grizzlies began to ease up, which left room for the Lakers to score enough three pointers to get within six points in the fourth quarter (82-76).
"You know, we made shots. They made threes," said head coach Dave Joerger. "We generally made shots in the second half, we weren't as aggressive. We over-passed. We turned the ball over by trying to be too cute, instead of just making the play that needed to be made. It feels good to see the ball go in, but I thought we had a chance to score 125 or 130 the way we were going. We just stopped being aggressive."
Los Angeles drained 15 three-pointers against the Grizzlies, the most Memphis has allowed this season. But the gritty Grizzlies had an answer to keep them in the game and on top. Memphis went on a 13-4 run to take a 15-point lead with six minutes left to play. The Lakers cut the lead down to three, but couldn't get any closer.
Courtney Lee led the Grizzlies with 18 points and added five assists. Allen came off the bench to tally 17 points. Marc Gasol posted his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"When it's a close game and you have to make plays to help your team win, and when it's a close game you have to fight to the end," Allen said. "Those 'blah' games are easy for the other teams to catch up into the lead and the guys have a daze going. However, I like the way we stuck together and we finished it out."
The Grizzlies' second unit outscored the Laker's bench 49-35. Memphis has the third-best home record (10-2) in the NBA since Jan. 10, matching their season high fourth consecutive home win.
The Grizzlies are scrapping for a playoff spot while the Lakers are fighting to stay afloat. Over the last eight games, the Lakers have lost seven, dropping their last three. Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni showed glimpses of his displeasure throughout the game. He also had to address a team situation after former-Grizzlies star Pau Gasol came under fire for openly criticizing his team's play during a loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
"I just made some remarks on how I felt after the game," Gasol said. "Yes, there was some frustration, but I don't think there was anything out of line or it went too far. I stated something obvious to me."
For the Lakers, Jodie Meeks led all scorers with 19 points, with Wesley Johnson pitching in 18 points. Pau Gasol finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"I think our intensity helped and being a little more organized defensively," said Gasol. "I think that was a big difference between the first half and the second half of how we were able to make plays and be patient. We were going inside and out. We were really poised I think. We were must getting good looks and not turning the ball over. We were more aware on the floor. I think playing with a well-balanced offense gave us more energy. It allowed so many transition points. That was helpful."
The Grizzlies are set for another back-to-back. They will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road on Friday, before returning to the FedExForum to battle the Cleveland Cavaliers.