It’s been a slow and frustrating start this season, but there’s nothing like playing against the no-defense Los Angeles Lakers to make a big man pad up his stats and boost his confidence, scoring 28 points, 14 of them coming in the final quarter, to lead the Memphis Grizzlies in a 89-86 win, hopefully streaming things towards the right direction.
The Grizzlies ended a two-game losing streak with their win at the Staples center, getting their first road win of the season. Marc Gasol was quite efficient as well against his older brother, who continues to look like a player shouldering greater expectations than he can actually deliver. The younger, better Gasol brother finished with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, having no problem directing the game as a pivot against the duo of Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol.
Tony Allen – Everybody knows that we go as Zach goes. That’s our horse, him and Marc. And we need them to continue that throughout the year. Everybody came here with their antennas up, and everybody just wanted to get this win more than the other team. And it showed. We played hard for 48 minutes.
Defensive displays have been rare from the Grizzlies this season, but the Lakers seem to be an excellent and fertile base for improvement and momentum changes for other teams. Even as Memphis shot just 1-of-13 from beyond the arc and Mike Conley having an awful day offensively, it’s always easy to find a weak spot in the Lakers’ very thin armor and simply press till it bleeds. Permieter defense is usually a popular choice, but the Grizzlies are a team that works at its best when their big men function well, and that is what won them the game, as Randolph finally woke up in the final quarter.
For the Lakers, it was more of the same. The random rotation of guards did see Jodie Meeks score 25 points, getting some help from Nick Young on the bench (Scoring 18), but that was about it when it comes to positives. Steve Blake is good player to have as your backup point guard, but an offense of a successful team can’t rely on him. Pau Gasol used to be a franchise big man and a great number 2 for a championship team, but he’s looking more and more washed up, especially against quality frontcourts, having another awful shooting day (4-of-12 from the field), while the soft Chris Kaman didn’t do much to help from the bench.
Memphis went for it all last year by trading away Rudy Gay, mostly for financial reasons. It resulted in a conference finals appearance, the first in franchise history. Was that the best they could do? Possibly. The bench hasn’t improved so far, unless Kostas Koufos plans on showing he was worth adding at some point. The Grizzlies are going to get better than what we’ve seen from them so far, but the formula of pushing it down to Randolph and hoping Marc Gasol keeps the lane closed and makes the right decision with the ball in his hand can only get them so far, which this year will mean an earlier playoff exit.