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Memphis Grizzlies take care of business against the Lakers, inch closer to a Playoff Spot

Memphis Grizzlies 102 - Los Angeles Lakers 90

Robert Hanashiro - USA TODAY Sports

On their last road trip, the Grizzlies looked like a team that was already lottery bound. While they did get a few wins, they clearly played down to their competition and couldn't seem to rise to the occasion to compete with the more elite teams. It was such a demoralizing way to start the month, and it looked like the season was over. Then last week happened. The Grizzlies earned important home wins over the Heat and Sixers, and got lucky that the Suns couldn't find a W in Texas. Now with 3 games remaining, all Grizzly fans want to know who is coming out to play on this road trip. Will it be the Grizzlies team that faltered on their last west coast swing, or the team that seemed to reclaim the "grit and grind" mantra back at FedEx Forum last week? It all starts tonight.

Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers

Pete Pranica/Brevin Knight Keys to the Game:

  1. Quick Start: Need to get out to a lead early
  2. Defense Transition: Lakers are one of the fastest teams. Need to get back on defense
  3. Keep Attacking the Paint : The Lakers have a small front court. Need to take advantage

First Quarter

As stated with the keys to the game, the Grizzlies had hoped to get off to a quick start, but unfortunately the Lakers decided to make this a game and try to play spoiler. Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks started perfect from the field and helped get them an early lead of 7 points. It wasn't until the Laker's bench came into the game, that the Grizzlies started to make some jump shots. Tony Allen's shot gave the Grizzlies their first lead of the game at 2:25,but it quickly disappeared as the Lakers used 3's and poor Grizzly pick and roll defense to go on a 7 to 1 run to end the quarter ahead. Lakers 27-Grizzlies 24.

Notes from the first quarter:

  • The Grizzlies were lucky to get out of the first quarter only being down by 4. The Lakers shot 57% while the Grizzlies shot 42%.
  • The Grizzlies did attack the paint and it helped them get to the line. They converted 4 out 6 free throws, while the Lakers shot zero free throws in the quarter.
  • The Lakers were 3 for 7 shooting 3's. Most of them were open looks and shots off screens.

Second Quarter

Both teams came out of the quarter firing 3's. Nick Young hit the first and was quickly answered by Mike Miller. Then Ryan Kelly was fouled shooting a 3 (he made 2 out 3 ft's). After trading baskets, the Lakers took their biggest lead of 9pts on a Wes Johnson alley-oop. The Grizzlies then went their own 9-0 run that was capped off with a Conley 3-pointer to tie the game at 39. The leads kept going back and forth, but the Grizzlies managed to come out on top 53 to 52 to end the the half.

Notes from the second quarter:

  • The pick and roll defense by the Grizzlies in the first half was horrible. The Lakers must have done the same play 10 times or more with Robert Sacre rolling to the basket. The coaches seemed to have addressed this during halftime because they defended it much better in the 2nd half.
  • If Courtney Lee can consistently hit 3-pointers, the Grizzlies will go far in the playoffs. It always bothers me, when I see Randolph double-teamed and neither Lee nor Miller is helping out. At least twice during this game, Randolph was doubled and found a wide open Lee, who knocked down a 3-pointer. When he is on target, he is a huge weapon for us.
  • Nick Young had a nice 360 layup, and in traditional Nick Young fashion, he watched the replay of it on the jumbotron instead of getting back on defense.
  • Tony Allen did take more than a few bad shots, but his hustle was big for the Grizz in the 2nd. On one play, he jumped out of bounds to save a loose ball. Mike Miller caught the pass awkwardly but managed to pass it off to Ed Davis for a dunk. It was definitely a momentum changer for the game.
  • Mike Conley was big in the 2nd. He scored 10 out of the 30 points for the Grizzlies, including 2 3-pointers. (More on him later)
  • Zach Randolph did not have a good first half, and the worst decision he made came with 8 seconds left. After a rebound, he decided to dribble the ball up the court and not pass it. Jordan Hill was able to steal the ball and give the Lakers one last shot.

3rd Quarter

Neither team did anything particularly impressive coming out of the half. The Grizzlies allowed the Lakers to take the lead immediately on a Jordan Hill layup, and from that point forward, the lead continued to change hands. It wasn't until the 5 minute mark in the 3rd, when the Grizzlies were able to take the lead and hold it for good.  Other than a 3-pointer by Young, the Lakers couldn't make any shots. Credit this to their poor shot selection and some excellent defense by the Grizzlies. And while the Lakers couldn't get anything to go in the basket, the Grizzlies started to heat up. Marc Gasol was knocking down short turn-around jumpers and tip- ins. Tayshaun Prince was hitting hook shots and Miller was draining 3's. The quarter was punctuated with the play of the night: a Randolph backwards pass/alley-oop layup to Nick Calathes. The Grizzlies ended the quarter on a 17-3 run and held a lead of 87 to 69.

Notes from the 3rd quarter:

  • Prince really played well in the 3rd. He had a huge block on one end, and then hit a 3 pointer on the very next play. Though it doesn't always seem to work, in this game he was able to use his size advantage and get easy hook shots.
  • The Grizzlies were able to get 9 stops in a row twice (up to this point of the game).

4th Quarter

With an 18pt lead heading into the 4th, the Grizzlies apparently thought they had the game in the bag and started to play recklessly. They opened the quarter with 3 turn overs and 2 missed shots. After made baskets by Miller and Kosta Koufos, the Grizzlies went on another 3 minute offensive slump. In that time span, they turned the ball over 5 times and missed 4 shots. Luckily for them, the Lakers were unable to capitalize, and with Randolph leading the late charge, the Grizzlies held on to the lead, which never dropped below double digits.

Final Thoughts:

  • Player of the Game (Golden Growl Towel Winner): Mike Conley. After only scoring 2pts against the Sixers on Friday, he scored a game high 24pts tonight. He hit 2 3-pointers, had 8 assists, and 2 steals. I think it is safe to assume his ankle is better.
  • The Grizzlies didn't really listen to the Keys of the Game. They started off slow in all 4 quarters and they gave up 31 fast break points. Luckily their transition defense didn't hurt them tonight, but I hope it along with their 3-point defense is much improved against the Suns.
  • Just because I hadn't mentioned him tonight, Ed Davis played a good game. He had 2 big blocks (actually had a third but was called a foul) and made some good decisions tonight. He has really played well coming off the bench these last few games.
  • It's always good to see Mike Miller shooting. He was 3-4 from downtown tonight. I think it should be mandatory that he shoots at least 4 3-pointers per game.

Good win tonight by the Grizz. Now they are off to the desert for a big showdown against the Suns.