To be honest, last night's 90-82 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers wasn't all that terrible of a loss. Yes, a loss is a loss, but when you're playing without your best player (Zach Randolph), against a team that just has for too much length and size for our Z-Bo-less team to handle, all you can do now is point to the positives, and maybe gloss over the negatives... just slightly.
Again, not having Randolph will mean that we need to find a way to spread the floor offensively, which, unfortunately, remains a weak point for us. We shot just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. That's not going to help us all that much going forward. O.J. Mayo missed all three of his 3-point attempts, while Mike Conley went 1-of-3, making our only trey. We need to get a shooter, or shooters, to help spread the floor, plain and simple. Last night against the Lakers, there was no way we were going to win the battle in the paint, without having shooters to keep the defense honest. Just ask Marc Gasol (0-of-9 shooting).
On the bright side...
We forced a staggering 27 turnovers to a Laker team that was averaging fewer than 13 turnovers per game heading into our meeting on Sunday night. The Grizzlies picked 18 steals, which as we know is one of our strengths (or weaknesses, when cheating turns into easy buckets...). We also managed to only cough up the ball just 9 times. That, for us is huge. A 27:9 TO ratio... and yet we lost by 8 points. We win one battle, but lose another.
Along with our struggles at the 3-point line, we only also managed to hit just 5-of-19 shots between 3 and 15 feet from the rim. That's terrible. How are we expected to be taken serious outside of the paint if we can't hit those mid-range jumpers. A little further out, we actually saw a bit of an uptick, thanks really to Quincy Pondexter and Marreese Speights.
[More on the Lakers: Silver Screen and Roll]
Pondexter had a nice little rhythm going, hitting 5-of-7 shots from beyond 16 feet, while Speights went 5-of-9 from that range. Again, nice to see them hitting some long jumpers, but as a team we're going to need to mix it up a little. Which is something that I think Speights and Pondexter can help us do. But we need to put it all together. When Pondexter and Speights were hitting jumpers (and, yes, O.J. Mayo), we weren't able to get anything going in the paint. That can't happen.
With O.J. Mayo, I did like that he was looking to get out and run, creating some transition looks. The problem, though, is that for every one play where you stand up and give him a nod, a little credit, he turns around and makes two bonehead plays. He needs to find some consistency. Please. I'm not saying he needs to be Kobe Bryant, but at least be our James Harden. Ah, that's probably too much to ask.
[Lakers 90, Grizzlies 82: Grizzlies vs Lakers Box Score]
Speaking of Bryant, he did his thing. He worked Tony Allen into a fit, at times, baiting him on up-fakes and post moves. It was a typical Bryant performance. To be fair to Tony, though, he did play a typically aggressive game on both ends. For better or worse.
In the end, we lost a game that we honestly had little business winning, anyway. And I don't mean we can't beat the Lakers, but I think we're still looking for our post-Zach identity, plus we're still trying to find a way to work Speights into the offense, which will take time. We looked better last night, and we held strong for about 46 minutes, but in the end we didn't shoot the ball well enough (and we didn't get to the line often enough), which did us in.
[Up next, the Oklahoma City Thunder: Welcome to Loud City]