It wasn't always pretty, but the Memphis Grizzlies were able to shake off a slow start and take down the Los Angeles Lakers 99-93 at Staples Center Wednesday night. Here are my three takeaways from the win:
1) Gasol was much more aggressive in the second half
Marc Gasol was physically present for the first half, but really didn't make any sort of impact. Marc scored just three points on four shots in in the first two quarters, and the Grizzlies trailed by five at the break. That changed in the second half, and we saw the much-needed return of Aggressive Marc.
Right from the start of the third quarter Gasol looked to be more involved in the offense, whether that meant hitting his patented mid-range set shot, going to work in the post, or running the fast break. Marc finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and his play in the second half opened up more options on offense for the Grizzlies by forcing the Lakers to respect him, like on this play from late in the third quarter:
Courtney Lee's man left to double Gasol, who then recognized the play and kicked out to Conley who swung to Lee for the wide open three. If Gasol isn't aggressive earlier in the quarter, the double team doesn't come and this play isn't possible.
2) Kobe was weird
Kobe Bryant did not attempt a single field goal until several minutes into the second quarter. Raise your hand if you predicted that. Oh come on, nobody?
I want to say that it was an attempted return of the infamous Kobe The Facilitator, but then I look at the box score and see he finished with only two assists. He was certainly looking to pass first most of the night. As the game went on, he became more of his regular self, finishing with 22 points on 5-15 shooting. He made his living at the free throw line, knocking down 10-10 from the stripe.
3) This was an important win
On the surface, a road game against the Lakers might not seem all that critical, but it's the first of a four-game road trip that will see Memphis play Portland, Sacramento, and Houston over the next several days. The difficult stretch doesn't end there either, with the Grizzlies returning home to face San Antonio, Miami, and Dallas. With such a difficult schedule right around the corner, it's important that the Grizz were able to come back and win one that they were supposed to.