As far as moral victories go, chalk this one up for the Lakers. They outshot (by about 0.9%) a Memphis Grizzlies team known for one of the best defenses in the league. They only lost the rebounding battle by 11, a strong improvement over last night's contest where the Pacers drubbed them by 20 boards. They kept speedy point guard Mike Conley Jr. to 3 for 11 shooting, a feat which is not exactly their specialty. Thanks to 11 fourth quarter points from Jordan Farmar, they made the game just a two-possession contest to end the fourth quarter. Perhaps most importantly, the Lakers weren't the team on the receiving end of a third quarter slaughter, doling out a stunning 27-17 scoring deficit to the Grizzlies.
However, none of those moral victories were enough to bring LA an actual victory, as they fell in Memphis 108-103. The Lakers played very well tonight, a strong effort for their 58th consecutive game. Not 24 hours after Pau Gasol ripped them for their lack of discipline and identity, LA seemed to pass a bit more crisply and executed their offense with much more efficiency. Pau Gasol and Wesley Johnson poured in 17 and 18 points, respectively, while Jordan Farmar hit for 16 in one of his finest games in weeks. The team at least showed more energy defensively than they did the other night at least superficially, but nevertheless ceded over 100 points to a very mediocre Memphis offense.
The Grizzlies scoring attack came from all around, as Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Courtney Lee and James Johnson each scored at least 13 points. They helped in part to own the Lakers in the paint, grabbing 13 offensive rebounds to pair with 56 points from the interior. The Lakers were without Chris Kaman tonight, who sat out with back troubles (a "tanking injury" if I ever saw one), which kept the undersized Wes Johnson guarding Z-Bo, Kosta Koufous and Gasol at times all night long. Naturally, this didn't help the rebounding battle, which was a definitive victory for the Grizz. Of all the Memphis players, Johnson was particularly impressive, continuing his string of strong play with his aggressive moves to the rack.
Again, the Lakers played almost as well as they possibly could given the new players, lack of practice time and of course, injuries, a show of effort which helped them towards their great comeback bid. They were down nearly 20 points for a large chunk of the second quarter, which was whittled down to single digits halfway through the fourth quarter. Farmar led the charge here alongside a Jodie Meeks who is showing that he's fully healthy a week or so too late in regards to the trade deadline. Kendall Marshall again saw his playing time drop as the ball has found its way out of his hands and into Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks'.
Overall, I'm not sure what to write about the Lakers at this point aside from those interesting little tidbits. This game was as formulaic and monotonous as yet another loss locked in on the slate. They played extremely hard and competed for all three quarters, but couldn't get enough stops down the stretch to win the game. Again, I don't see how anyone is particularly frustrated with this team, as they don't have enough time to create an identity, nor really the need to do so with the playoffs out of reach.
This is the worst team in the Western Conference who continue to play hard night after night. Let's admire them for a bit, shall we?
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino