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In another lackluster effort Sunday night, the Lakers lost for the third time in four games at home, and once again to another non-playoff team in a blowout. This time it was the Memphis Grizzlies who took it to the Lakers 104-85, in a game they led almost the entire way.
The Lakers came out flat from the start, and by the middle of the first quarter found themselves behind by nine points, and they never recovered. They trailed by the same nine points at halftime, and did actually get to within one point in the third quarter. But that’s as close as they got to the lead.
Lamar Odom missed two free throws that would have at least tied the game early in the third quarter, the Grizzlies then went on a 19-4 run that buried the Lakers, despite Kobe Bryant scoring 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. It was obvious on this night it was going to take more than Bryant’s heroics to pull out a win, but no one else offered much resistance.
The losses at home are not only alarming because of who the Lakers are losing to, it’s also how they are losing. They’ve now been blown out by two sub-.500 teams by 19 points, in addition to the 16-point waxing by the Miami Heat on Christmas Day. The only win in the last four at home was a close 102-98 victory over Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve, a game the Lakers could have easily lost.
Only two other Laker players scored in double figures Sunday. Shannon Brown had 11 points off the bench, and Pau Gasol had 10 points and eight rebounds. Andrew Bynum scored nine points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and had five blocks, but took only eight shots from the floor.
The Lakers actually outshot the Grizzlies from the field, hitting 46.5% (33-71) to 45.6% (41-90), but turned the ball over 20 times, which allowed Memphis to take a staggering, 19 more shots. That was the difference in the game. The Lakers were also outrebounded 44-37, but that stat was not nearly as damaging as the turnovers.
Rudy Gay, who missed the team’s loss on Saturday in Utah, scored 27 points on 10-19 from the field. Zach Randolph scored 21 points to go along with eight rebounds, and O.J. Mayo torched the Lakers off the bench with 15 points.
Bryant also picked up his fifth technical foul in the last six games, as it appears his frustration is growing with more than just the officiating.
The Lakers next game is Tuesday night at home against the woeful Detroit Pistons, whom the Lakers beat easily 103-90 back on November 17th in Detroit. In that game, Bryant had 33 points and nine rebounds, Gasol had 25 and 12 rebounds, and Odom had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
There were two welcome sights for Lakers’ fans on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital. One was seeing center Andrew Bynum on the court for the first time this season, and the other was watching the Lakers get an easy win over an inferior opponent.
With Andrew Bynum contributing seven points, four rebounds, and two blocks in 17 minutes off the bench, the Lakers rolled over the injury-depleted Washington Wizards 103-89 at the Verizon Center, in game that really wasn’t as close as the final score.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 24 points in less than 24 minutes, and unleashed a barrage of three-pointers on the hometown Wizards in the third quarter, that pushed a 10-point Laker lead to 20, and the champs never looked back. Bryant hit three long-range shots after inexplicably missing three straight free throws when he was fouled beyond the arc.
Lamar Odom stayed in his starting role despite the return of Bynum, and scored 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds, making six of his eight shots. Pau Gasol, maybe happier than anyone to see Bynum back on the court, scored 16 points, with nine rebounds, and seven assists, in less than 31 minutes on the night.
Shannon Brown scored 16 off the bench, and Ron Artest had a solid night with 10 points on 4-8 from the field.
Bynum generally looked good out on the floor, wearing a big brace and black wrap to protect his surgically-repaired right knee. He struggled a bit with his shot, hitting just 1-5 from the floor, and couldn’t get enough lift to finish an alley-oop dunk, but did run the floor well for a player missing the first 24 games, and all of the preseason.
The Wizards played without rookie star guard John Wall and center Andray Blatche, and had predictable struggles all night. While they did manage to keep the game within 10-12 points until the middle of the third quarter, they shot just 40.7% from the field, and only 3-19 (15.8%) from the three-point line, which made an uphill battle even tougher.
Nick Young, who always seems to play well against his hometown teams, scored 21 points off the bench, but needed 21 shots to do it. Javale McGee had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Gilbert Arenas had 11 points and 11 assists, but shot just 5-15 from the floor, and 1-7 from beyond the arc. The Wizards have now dropped nine straight to the Lakers.
It was the first easy win the Lakers have had on this seven-game road trip. And with the second game of a back-to-back tomorrow in Indiana, the starters certainly must have appreciated the extended rest that accompanied Tuesday’s victory. Tomorow night, the Pacers may be without All-Star forward Danny Granger, who is nursing a bad ankle.
More help for the Lakers up front may be on the way, as sources have said a three-team trade has been agreed to in principle, that would send veteran forward Joe Smith to the Lakers from the New Jersey Nets, in return for guard Sasha Vujacic. That deal, however, cannot be announced until tomorrow.
The Lakers blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead, played sloppy down the stretch, and watched Carmelo Anthony pour in 32 points as the Nuggets knocked the Lakers from the ranks of the undefeated, 118-112 in Denver on Thursday night.
It was a game the Lakers were in control of most of the night, leading by as many as 14 midway through the third quarter. They held a 95-85 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game when the Nuggets went on a 16-0 run to take a 101-98 lead. The Lakers took their last lead at 105-103 on a layup by Shannon Brown , but were thoroughly outplayed down the stretch, settling for too many 3-pointers, as the Nuggets pulled away late for an impressive come-from-behind win.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 34 points, but hit only 11-32 shots from the field. He missed several open jump shots down the stretch as well. Pau Gasol had 17 points and a season-high 20 rebounds, but was clearly frustrated by the Nuggets’ smaller lineup employed by coach George Karl for large parts of the game. Ron Artest had a solid game with 18 points.
The real bright spot for the Lakers was the play of Shannon Brown, who scored 19 points off the bench and made several big shots and plays in the fourth quarter to keep them close. But it wasn’t enough, as the Lakers fell to 8-1 on the season.
Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 32 points (on 14-25 shooting) and 13 rebounds. His play was the difference down the stretch as he hit big basket after big basket to help get the win. Nene had 18 points.
But it was the play of the Nuggets’ bench that got the them the lead in the fourth. Ty Lawson got the to the rim at will, scoring 17 points with 5 assists, and J.R. Smith, who has struggled this year so far, found his range from beyond the arc and scored 13 points.
The Lakers will try to bounce back on Sunday as they take on Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on Sunday. The Lakers beat the Suns 114-106 in the second game of the season in Phoenix.
It’s not even November yet, so it’s hard to make much of a 3-0 record, but the Lakers have started the season playing solid basketball, as they pounded the Golden St. Warriors 107-83 at Staples Center on Sunday night.
The game, played on Halloween night, must have felt like a nightmare for the Warriors who continue to struggle against the Lakers, losing 10 straight regular season contests. The world champs dominated inside all night as they outrebounded the Warriors 55-42, and held the boys from the Bay Area to under 41% shooting from the field. The Lakers led 34-14 after one quarter, and the Warriors never recovered, trailing by as much as 32 in the fourth.
Pau Gasol continued his strong start to the season with another double-double, leading everyone with 26 and 12 rebounds in under 35 minutes. Kobe Bryant, who told reporters after the game that his knee was 100%, scored 20 points and grabbed seven boards, and got most of the night off in the blowout. He played just 27 minutes. Lamar Odom had another big game with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Derek Fisher had a season-high 14 points.
Golden St.’s big offseason acquisition David Lee, was held scoreless in 19 minutes and grabbed just three rebounds, as the Lakers made it a point to keep him off the glass. Monta Ellis led the visitors with 20 points, but struggled to find his rhythm as he was swarmed on defense all night. Dorell Wright had a solid game with 18 points and five rebounds. The Warriors played without guard Stephen Curry who is nursing a sore ankle.
The only real negative to the evening were the 20 turnovers the Lakers committed, which Phil Jackson saw as an area of concern that will need to be addressed.
The Lakers even found minutes for their two rookies, with both Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter scoring the first four points of their NBA careers during “garbage time” in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers’ next game will be Tuesday night at home against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been without forward Zach Randolph since he took a hard fall and injured his back on opening night.