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‘Details’ detour Grizz on way to victory


Ever attended a great basketball game and left confused?

Ever attended a great basketball game and left confused?

Well many did on Tuesday (March 13) when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 116 to 111 at FedExForum in a double-overtime survival contest.

 Kobe Bryant
 The Grizz had the Lakers in a deep hole at the FedExForum on Tuesday night, but Kobe Bryant and L.A. dug their way out in a double-overtime thriller. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

 Grizz guard Mike Conley battles Pau Gasol of the Lakers for a loose ball in a double-overtime game where every little play seemed to matter.

The confusion brewed as several foul calls were overlooked. I know I counted more than ten in the first quarter. I scratched my head during the second quarter because still no calls. By the time the second overtime was over I realized that only two Grizzlies – Marreese Speights and Tony Allen – made it to the free-throw line during the entire game. Six players from the Lakers hit the line scoring 28 of their 34 free throws.

The Lakers’ Matt Barnes tripped, falling to the floor while making a run to the basket with Sam Young in his tracks and a foul was called on Young. Kobe Bryant made 11 of his 25 free throw attempts. Lakers center Andrew Bynum scored on 15 of his 18 free-throw attempts.  

Meanwhile, Memphis attempted a season low five free throws. It’s a free country and Grizz fans took advantage of their right to scream liberally at the officials.

Still, it was an evening of pure playoff-atmosphere basketball.

Fans gathered from throughout the region for the one and only regular season appearance by the Lakers in the FedExForum this season. The crowd was about 50-50, Lakers fans vs. Grizzlies fans. The battle royal of fans defending their home court, trying to check the oohs and ahs of “Kobe-Time” was evident from start to finish.

 “Our guys played hard,” said Grizz Head Coach Lionel Hollins. “We just didn’t make shots down the stretch. They played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. We lost to a team that played better. We’ve got to give them their due…”

 In a heck of a basketball game, the fans got their money’s worth, said Hollins. “I just hope they keep coming out, because we’re gonna keep giving ours out there so that they know they’re gonna play with a lot of heart and a lot of grit.”

The Grizzlies lost for the first time this season when scoring 100 points or more and for the first time at home when leading at the end of the first quarter and at halftime.  

“It’s tough to play without Rudy (Gay),” said Quincy Pondexter, making reference to the Grizz’s leader scorer, who was out with a mild concussion, “and we’re still waiting to get (All-Star forward) Zach Randolph back….

But at the same time, we came out and competed,” said Pondexter, who scored eight points. “We were right there to win the game.”

Speights led six Grizzlies in double figures with a season-high 25 points to go with seven rebounds and a career-high five assists. He scored 15 points in the third quarter. Center Marc Gasolfinished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“Little details,” Gasol said. “There were small plays and a couple of mistakes. They made us pay and they deserve it.”

 Asked about the officiating, Gasol replied, “I’m not going to go there,” adding that he was not giving his money away.

Allen scored 11 of his 18 points in the first quarter and contributed four assists.

“We had our chances to seal the deal,” said Allen. “Like coach said, it was the little things that did it. Me personally, I came in and gave up a three. That’s one thing coach made emphasis on coming into here. It felt like a playoff atmosphere, and that’s playoff basketball.”

Grizz guard Mike Conley posted his eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 11 assists, surpassing his total amount of double-doubles from all of last season.

Bynum led the Lakers with a season-high 37 points and 16 rebounds followed by Bryant with 34 points and nine rebounds.

In the Lakers’ locker room after the game, forward Metta World Peace sported his blue suede loafers and said he wears them every time he’s in Memphis.

“Everybody started picking up the pace,” said World Peace. “Coach made some good subs. The second unit came in and really had us back in the game. They pulled it out.”

 Memphis is a very physical team,” said Kobe Bryant. “Down low, they are very big. Marc (Gasol) is very big and good defensively. It should give him a great deal of confidence. To do what he did against this team was awesome.”

The game featured “typical Grizzlies basketball,” said Bryant.

“They are extremely well-coached. They have a lot of weapons. They play very well defensively. The thing that really carries them is their opportunity to get steals, which leads to fast break points. The first time we played them we had 27 turnovers, but somehow managed to win the ball game.”


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