(editor's note: welcome Andy Livingston, our guest recapper for today!)
The big fear with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers coming into FedEx Forum was "Please don't have a good night." Kobe is still far away from fully recovered, but still strikes fear into the heart of every player and fan that he doesn't hit his full recovery on their team. And he didn't, but he could have come close. Tying his season high of 21 points, Kobe overcame 4 games in 5 nights and weird leg roll to have a pretty decent outing. Tony Allen guarded him well, but not great and his recovery still prevented him from being any kind of menace on the defensive end.
Pau Gasol entered into the game with his very public feud with Mike D'antoni and walked away proving his point. Spending the entirety of the game in the post, Gasol put up 21 points and 9 rebounds (all defensive).
The Grizz hung around better than they have been, ending quarters strongly, either tying or down by single digit figures. In 15 quarters of the 24 games played, the Grizz have been down by double-figures. Tonight they finally kept it together enough to keep that chasm man sized instead of the Grand Canyon we've all been seeing so far.
But they are still thin in all areas and the Lakers went on a 17-4 run in the 4th and that was that.
Analogies in sports to war are terrible, so let's talk Nick Calathes! Ten points on 4 of 6 shooting including his first three-pointer, but more importantly brought a pulse of life to the team. Showing good speed and good decision making down in the paint, Calathes looked like the best member of that increasingly good looking bench unit. Mike Miller displayed some good Old Man Speed and provided some kind of leadership to that unit that each game seems more comfortable with each other, while the starters are crumbling.
Tackle box Jon Leuer increased chances of becoming the new fan favorite in Memphis, hitting 3 of 4 from triples and getting seven rebounds. This game also had the debut of recent signee James Johnson, but he only played 4 minutes and hit two free throws. Ed Davis had at times looked great; he pulled down three offensive rebounds, scored nine points, but blew a fast break assist from Jerryd Bayless by doing his best Justin Tucker impression and kicked the ball out of bounds.
Yes, the offense is anemic; Zach Randolph is especially hurt by the absence of Marc Gasol. Although he exploited his size inside for 18 points and 16 Zbounds, he was also 7 for 22 in shooting and had no answer for the double and triple teams the Lakers were sending to defend. Kosta Koufos is helpful on the defensive end and for rebounding, but no one is mistaking him for The Big Burrito when it comes to points. James Johnson appears to have the physical size to help, but the sample size of him showed little post work.
Tayshaun Prince played only 9 minutes and didn't play in the second half. Maybe if we're lucky it will stay that way. Coach Dave Joerger seemed to play around with his short lineups more, but his options are so limited there's not much he can do until Mike Conley returns and hopefully, James Johnson can do his best Borg impression and assimilate into the team.
NBA Trade Season
NBA Trade Season
Mike Miller rolled his ankle in an ugly fashion late in the fourth and went immediately to the locker room. Although he returned after a brief moment, but didn't return to the game, the similarities between that and Mike Conley's head-down-walking-really-fast-on-one-leg to the locker room was enough for a normal human to throw his fandom into the trash can. Just kidding, you know how expensive these Mitchell & Ness hats are?
A blip of a bright spot on the night was a picture tweeted out showing Marc Gasol throwing his crutches in the trash can. A sign that all isn't lost and that the Big Spaniard will indeed return on a pale horse to create some sort of offensive opportunities. There is no word on Conley's return for tonight's game in Dallas, but the next game after that is Saturday night and that seems a more likely return.
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