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Final Score: Grizzlies Hold Off Lakers, 106-98

The Lake Show drops to 0-4 on the road as Dwight, Pau and the defense no-show once again.


The Lakers tonight weren't as awful, top to bottom, as they were in Sacramento on Wednesday. In fact there were several positive developments in spite of the final score, a 96 to 108 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers' three-point attack was as potent as we've seen it in years, Darius Morris continued to blossom before our eyes, Jodie Meeks hit some important shots, and Antawn Jamison had by far his best game in purple and gold. Problem is, it's not a good sign if those are the first three names I'm mentioning in my recap. It foreshadows a lack of contribution from the stars who are supposed to be anchoring this team. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, so terrible in the loss to the Kings, were if anything even worse tonight. Their joint vanishing act was the main reason the improving form of the bench went to waste yet again.

Dwight and Pau this evening scored 13 points (on 5-for-15 shooting) and pulled in 8 rebounds. That's what they did combined. Those are the numbers you arrive at when you add each player's individual numbers together. 13 and 8 should be a subpar night for either of them individually. And in this case, the stats very much do not lie. Neither player was effective for more than a few minutes at a time. Pau is shooting the ball poorly and getting housed on defense. Dwight looks lazy and passive in every phase of the game. I'm not sure exactly what's going on with these two guys but it's killing the Lakers. Pau didn't play at all in the fourth quarter.

With him and Dwight getting massively outplayed by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies were able to build a big first-quarter lead and ride it out to victory. In addition to the disappearance of their two star big men, the Lakers suffered from grim team defense that couldn't string together more than a couple stops in a row (and did even that infrequently). Memphis repeatedly ran a simple pick-and-pop with Conley and Gasol. No one would switch onto the roll man or hedge the ballhandler hard enough to disrupt his looks. As a result, those two just hooked up all night long for easy shots or ball rotation to open teammates. For the game the Grizzlies scored about 1.18 points per possession. All of their starters scored in double digits.

Plainly this Lakers team has a lot of work to do to get their defense into shape. Right now it's bad both in X's-and-O's design and in the crap effort guys are putting forth. Really the only reason the Lakers stayed in this game until the end was the play of their unheralded sporting cast - Morris, Jamison, Meeks, Chris Duhon (looking weirdly competent at times) and Metta World Peace. We didn't see much tonight of Jordan Hill, who played only four minutes. That's because Jamison, who put up 16 points and 7 rebounds, was so quality.

A couple things are becoming clear. One, Morris is better than Steve Blake. He's a better defender, his speed generates good looks in transition, and he's looking more and more accurate as an outside shooter. Two, Meeks is getting increasingly comfortable and is good enough (one hopes) to kill the idea of going after Raja Bell. That's right, Laker fans: right now the bench is the least of our worries.

As for Kobe Bryant, tonight wasn't his best performance of the season. He did his thing offensively, with a reasonably efficient 30-point night, but he wasn't immune from the "lazy defense" virus that's going around the locker room. A couple times he got caught ball-watching and got burned when his man ran a backcourt cut or a dive to the rim.

There's not much time to dwell on tonight's loss, as the Lakers are back on the court tomorrow in Dallas. For now they drop back below 0.500 and remain winless on the road.










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Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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Final - 11.23.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Los Angeles Lakers 18 31 21 28 98
Memphis Grizzlies 34 22 26 24 106

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