In a night with a few upsets, the Grizzlies didn't manage to force one of them. While they did lead at halftime, the Grizzlies were routed by the Lakers last night. To reiterate the point the Lakers were missing two enormous pieces in this game, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but still slowly figured out how to pick apart the Grizzlies. Remember that championship pedigree thing? It looks a lot like this game.
Kobe Bryant just shredded the Grizzlies non-defense for 41 points, as expected, and Ron Artest also had his first great game of the season tonight. Artest absolutely filled it up with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and a block and steal on defense. Frontcourt fill-ins D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell also played admirably.
Both Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph scored for the Grizzlies, but they also were non-entities on defense. Ron Artest picked Rudy apart to give him a game-worst +/-, and while Z-bo wasn't too shabby against Lamar Odom, he got beat by Josh Powell's midrange jumper. O.J. Mayo, Allen Iverson, and Mike Conley all looked bad -- what guard controversy?
The bench was again pretty much a non-factor, as bench players were typically slotted into some permutation of the starting lineup. I will say that the lineups do often look a bit better when some scoring has been traded for some defense -- often a lot better.
Rockness Monster- Ron Artest just killed Rudy Gay tonight. You could see the veteran savvy in his fakes and footwork that left Rudy nowhere near passing lanes or challenging shots on the few possessions he made a real effort on defense.
U-Turn- After one good night, Allen Iverson turns in a bad one. He played around 20 minutes, but only managed 8 points and 3 assists. Looks like Conley will remain the starter for the foreseeable future if neither of them can impress against a half-decent defense.
Bitter Lemon- One point I finally noticed tonight is that the Grizzlies offense runs almost completely different depending on if either Conley or Iverson is in controlling the ball. With Conley the offense normally actually runs through Gasol in the high-post, this is something many writers have asked for, but I'm not so thrilled with the reality. The other players aren't running the plays crisply enough for Gasol to deliver them the ball.
With Iverson the offense run better because it is a more tradition isolation setup, which plays better into the Grizzlies personnel, but is likely only going to exacerbate the trouble of having four isolation scorers all craving shots. In other words neither of these is the right way to play.
Sleeping With the Enemy- Now I'm picking up my own sloppy seconds after focusing on Ron Artest as my player of the game, so let me change over to the Lakers bench. Against the Grizzlies these guys looked good again. Luke Walton was dropping reverse layups for heaven's sakes.