Needless to say, the 365th loss of Phil Jackson’s coaching career is not going to be remembered as fondly as his 900th victory. The Lakers resolved after losing to Charlotte in triple-overtime last month not to give away any more games against meager teams. Of course, the Lakers not only lost to the NBA’s worst team, they gave up more points in regulation than any other game this season.
The big picture of that loss dominated the postgame talk. But there are still moments when games are decided and you can see how they added up against the Lakers. Start with the two fouls Kobe Bryant picked up in the first 5:45, sending him to the bench for the rest of the quarter. Maurice Evans has to check in and everything is off-kilter early.
Move ahead to the second quarter and the Lakers are part of a four-point swing with 9:31 left. Sasha Vujacic has a pass stolen by Pau Gasol. The Grizzlies head the other way and Mike Miller scores on the fastbreak while being fouled by Jordan Farmar. Vujacic tosses the ball against the basket standard in frustration and is called for a techncial foul. Miller hits two free throws and Memphis is down 30-29.
Even though the third quarter was a disaster, the Lakers actually led 62-56 with 9:39 left. The Grizzlies were playing a zone defense and the Lakers had gotten a dunk by Andrew Bynum and a Bryant 3-pointer against it. That was before Bynum somehow threw the ball over Bryant’s head and into the backcourt on one play. Miller took it the other way for a dunk and everything snowballed from there.
As for the fourth quarter, the Lakers tried desperately to get back in the game and closed to 116-103 with 5:43 remaining. If they could have gotten the game within 10 points, Jackson would have brought Bryant off the bench. He didn’t want to do it otherwise with the Lakers playing their fourth game in six nights. But Walton misses a layup with the chance to make it an 11-point game. The Lakers never got the Grizzlies’ lead down to single digits.
Of course, the Lakers aren’t going to win on the road when they give up 46-point third quarters, when they get outrebounded 50-39, when they let Memphis shoot 49 free throws and give up fastbreak points and points in the paint galore. But it’s important to remember those plays as potential turning points.
“We not holding it against this team because of who they lose to,” Jackson said. “We’re holding it against them because they didn’t play the kind of game we wanted to play, regardless of who our opponent was.”
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One of the differences between good and great teams comes in being able to stop a losing streak before it starts. The Lakers have dropped consecutive games only twice all season but need a victory Wednesday against Houston to avoid making it three times. They also have a chance to win the season series against the Rockets, which could be important come playoff time.
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There was an amusing sequence in the first quarter when Bynum was called for basketball interference on a follow-up dunk. Jackson was all over referee Bill Kennedy in thinking the ball had bounced outside the cylinder. Kennedy stopped at midcourt, stared at the replay on the arena video board and flashed both thumbs up when he saw his call was correct.
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Sasha Vujacic finished with 18 points and made four 3-pointers. It was his second career-high in as many games. Vujacic again played the entire fourth quarter, this time as the Lakers tried to come back.
Vladimir Radmanovic made just 1 of 6 shots, scored six points and fouled out in 17 minutes. Radmanovic rifled the ball off the backboard on a shot around the basket in the second quarter.
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By Ross Siler
MEMPHIS, Tenn.–Only the Lakers could take the prosperity that came with ending the Dallas Mavericks 13-game winning streak and turn it into charity two nights later against the Memphis Grizzlies.
There was no explanation for what happened Tuesday and none that would have sufficed. In a mere 48 hours, the Lakers went from inspiring to embarrassing, good enough to beat the NBAs best team and bad enough to lose to its worst.
The Grizzlies ripped the Lakers for 46 points in the third quarter, built a 24-point lead in the second half and pocketed a 128-118 victory. This even after Lakers coach Phil Jackson implored his players not to overlook an 8-27 team.
“Hes been telling us for the last two days, Luke Walton said. “This is the type of game that hes talking about we need to win. Personally, I thought we were ready, but obviously weve got some more learning to do because we werent ready.’
Kobe Bryant finished with 25 points but didnt play in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach. Among the starters, Andrew Bynum made just 5 of 13 shots, Brian Cook 4 of 13, Smush Parker 3 of 9 and Walton 1 of 8.
As impressive as their victories over Dallas, Phoenix, Utah and San Antonio have been, the Lakers in effect have canceled them out with losses to Portland, New Orleans, Charlotte and Memphis. The combined record of those four teams is 44-94.
“Its got to be mental, Walton said. “Weve shown that we have the talent and the ability to play as an elite team. If you have that capability and you have that talent, then its got to be something else.
No wonder Jackson said before the game, “Were a team that doesnt understand its own identity.
With former coach Mike Fratello in charge, 46 points would have been a good half of work for the Grizzlies. Instead, they totaled that many points Tuesday in a train wreck of a third quarter for the Lakers.
It was only three points shy of the most ever allowed by the Lakers in a single quarter, coming in a March 19, 1993 game against Boston. From a 57-52 lead at halftime, the Lakers found themselves trailing 98-79 entering the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes when things go wrong, its just infectious, Jackson said. “One bad pass begets another, we say, and one bad play begets another. But we had a sequence of them that just kept multiplying in that third quarter.
It was the only quarter the Lakers lost all night but was enough to cost them the game. The Lakers committed six turnovers in the third, took 11 3-pointers trying to break a zone defense and gave up 24 fastbreak points to Memphis.
Bynum threw the ball over Bryants head, leading to a Mike Miller dunk. Walton looked for Parker on the fastbreak and lobbed a pass that skipped out of bounds. Cook threw a pass that Bynum couldnt hang onto.
The Grizzlies came back and took a 69-64 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Miller, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the quarter. It got worse from there, the Lakers going down by 13 points and Jackson substituting everybody but Bryant.
In his postgame comments, Bryant used the word “execute five times to describe what was lacking.
“When youre in these type of situations, you just have to button up and sharpen up, Bryant said. “You cant be loose with the basketball, you cant be lackadaisical, you just have to tighten the structure up and go out there and punch the clock.
The Grizzlies outscored the Lakers 46-22 in the third quarter. They scored only 30 points the entire first half of their Nov. 12 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center.
“You have to recognize the fact that were probably a younger team than Memphis is, Jackson said, “and they talk about them being in a youth movement.