If I read one story about this game that so much as mentions Kobe Bryant in the title, unless a derivative of the word "lose" is in there too, I think I'm going to put my hand through my laptop screen.
Why? Because Kobe isn't the story tonight. He tried really, really hard to be the story, scoring 44 of his Lakers points, but he's not the story.
The Grizzlies winning against a full-strength Los Angeles Lakers at home and in front of a sold-out crowd is the biggest news, especially to all the fans who supported their team by rocking their purple and gold to cheer for losing visitors.
Rudy Gay came back in style, oftentimes making supposed lock-down defender Ron Artest look foolish en route to 25 huge points, mostly coming at key points right at the start and finish. Zach Randolph got 22 with 17 rebounds despite playing against both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, two heads of the monster many consider the deepest trio of bigs in the league.
But the gameball just might belong to one native Memphian who wasn't wearing a scrap of Lakers colors tonight, waiver wire pickup Lester Hudson. Who cares that Huddy got a little wild with his shot selection when he hit the court for his second stint off the bench? For a few fleeting minutes it looked like the Grizzlies had lost their steam, until Hudson took the court and dropped a couple threes to pull the capacity crowd right back into the game.
Any yes, one of them was right in Kobe Bryant's eye. I'm calling that the story of the night.
Huddy might never have even entered the game had Sam Young not been out with an allergic reaction -- maybe he had to pass the ball in practice -- and nobody thought that without him the Grizzlies traditionally horrendous bench could hold up to the Lakers's championship depth.
The whole crew held up decently though, scoring 21 points (Hudson had 13) to make up for lackluster production from O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, who were held in check by foul trouble caused by defending Kobe and Pau Gasol, respectively. It was one of the first times this season that the Memphis Grizzlies looked like they didn't have enough weapons on the floor.
The Lakers didn't have as many weapons show up as usual either, though. Ron Artest had a solid 18 points, but otherwise starters Pau Pau, Derek Fisher, and Andrew Bynum combined for only 17 more. Super substitute Lamar Odom couldn't do much either, scoring just 4 points and failing to convert on a huge layup in the final minutes.
Because Lamar missed that layup and then got over the back on Zach Randolph, who hit both free throws, the Grizzlies had the lead. But Phil Jackson cleverly resisted calling a timeout with the Lakers down 4, instead opting to have Kobe take it coast to coast to bring it within one possession.
On the return trip Rudy nailed a three, only to see Kobe match his three with a friendly roll-in from deep of his own. Mike Conley got the ball and was intentionally fouled by Fish, prompting myself and the rest of Grizzlies nation to groan while he missed both of his free -- more on his limitations tomorrow. It didn't matter, however, because OJAM pestered Kobe, let Marc switch onto him to guard the shot with his huge wingspan, and then Kobe kicked it out to Ron Artest to take the potential game-winner.
He missed. The Grizzlies took this enormous momentum swing, the Lakers were brought back to earth, and I have a feeling Lester Hudson's going to be sitting in the front of the plane on the way to Cleveland tonight.