Tomorrow’s notebook tonight …
Therapy: noon. Flight: 3 p.m.
That’s what somebody scrawled on a whiteboard inside the Lakers’ locker room after their loss Sunday night to the Memphis Grizzlies, which led one sarcastic visitor to joke, “Do you think that’s mental or physical therapy?”
The Lakers seemed to have settled a number of issues with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions at the March 15 trade deadline. They were younger, faster, more athletic and better suited for the stretch run and the playoffs ahead.
Or so we thought.
Then a new set of worries cropped up in the course of one lackluster game. Or maybe it was two or three or four games. If you look back far enough, back to last week’s split of their trip to Houston and Dallas, maybe all was not well with them.
Kobe Bryant’s extended rest on the Lakers’ bench during crunch time Sunday raised eyebrows as much for his unwillingness to second-guess coach Mike Brown’s substitution pattern as for the mere fact that he sat while the game slipped away.
“If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to give you one,” Bryant said.
The Lakers visit Oakland tonight to play the Golden State Warriors, and it remains to be seen what, if any, fallout lingers from Bryant’s benching for roughly four critical minutes Sunday against the Grizzlies.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum, the Lakers’ newly minted All-Star center, suddenly can’t seem to find a rebound in the last few games. He scored 30 points Sunday against the Grizzlies, but took only four rebounds, or eight fewer than his average.
Bynum has had four, nine, seven and seven rebounds in his last four games.
“The last four games I haven’t had more than 10 boards and we went 2-2,” he said. “I think that kind of shows something.”
And then there is the curious case of power forward Pau Gasol’s missing shooting touch during Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies and Friday’s narrower-than-expected victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Gasol made only 4 of 15 shots during Sunday’s game and was 5 of 14 during Friday’s contest for a combined 31 percent, well off his season average of 51.2 percent. He scored 16 points against Memphis and had 10 against Portland.
“I’m shooting the same way,” he said. “I’m open. They’re not poor shots.”
Of equal or greater concern is the Lakers’ surprising run of poor defensive games.
Overall, they are giving up an average of 93 points, but they’ve slipped in recent games. Memphis was the eighth opponent to top 100 points this month.
The Lakers had given up 100 points only seven times in the two previous months.
“We can’t ignore what’s going to make us a great team and what’s going to make us a great team is playing defensively and playing solid at that end of the floor,” Gasol said. “We just have to be more consistent at the defensive end of the floor.”
The Lakers have won 13 of their past 14 games against the Warriors and are 27-4 in their last 31 against them. The teams haven’t met since the Lakers’ victory Jan. 6 at Staples Center. They play three times in the final five weeks of the season.