Rudy Gay scored 27 points to outduel Kobe Bryant, who had 28, as the Memphis Grizzlies embarrassed the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center 104-85 on Sunday night. The L.A. faithful booed the Lakers throughout the second half as the home team failed to put up much of a fight.
The Lakers actually trailed by just a point with three minutes left before halftime. But Memphis went on a 10-2 run to close the second quarter to create a nine-point cushion that helped withstand a charge by Kobe at the start of the third. Kobe scored nine of the Lakers' first 13 points of the third quarter as L.A. pulled to within two. The Lakers wouldn't get closer, however, as the Grizzlies carved up L.A.'s defense and the home team's shots stopped falling. By the end of the third, Memphis had run out to a 17-point lead.
The Grizzlies killed the Lakers so viciously that no one -- not even the Grizzlies themselves -- could get too excited about this fairly ridiculous elevator alley-oop by Gay.
Bryant took 22 shots in 31 minutes while co-star Pau Gasol took just nine in 32 minutes. Expect that to be a major storyline coming out of the Lakers' latest implosion, given that a similar disparity caused some internal soul-searching after a bad string just a week ago.
The Lakers have lost four of six overall and three of four at home. L.A. has fallen to 6-1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference, and is currently tied with the Utah Jazz for third place, just a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Silver Screen And Roll doesn't believe the Lakers' loss came due to a lack of effort.
Interpreting a team's effort level is a subjective challenge, but to my view at least, until the lead got out of hand late in the third I thought the Lakes had decent energy. Kobe was certainly trying. Pau and Lamar were (at the outset) working to get good shots. Andrew Bynum was a Mutombo-like scary monster on D in the first half. Fish was... doing... Fish... things? I guess? Look, I'm not saying they were busting ass like it was Game Seven, just that they were playing reasonably hard for a while. They just weren't playing well or especially smart.
Rajon Rondo returned to the court for the Boston Celtics; not coincidentally, the Celtics got back into the win ledger. Rondo missed seven games with an ankle sprain. Boston had lost two straight and three of four before knocking out the Toronto Raptors in a Sunday matinee.
Toronto has had injury trouble of its own; the Raptors missed Andrea Bargnani, Sonny Weems and Jerryd Bayless. As a result Toronto's offense had trouble getting started. DeMar DeRozan is really coming along, and led the Raptors with 27 points. For the Celtics, Rondo started slowly with four points, eight assists and five turnovers. But Paul Pierce racked up 30, and Ray Allen racked up 23.
The Celtics will be without Kevin Garnett for at least another week, with a big game against the San Antonio Spurs looming on Wednesday. But having Rondo back is a big boon.
Pierce is always a boon.
- CelticsBlog credited Boston's selflessness with the ball. Check out Raptors HQ for Toronto Raptors news and analysis.
The New York Knicks are a lot more similar to the Indiana Pacers than they are to the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat; as such, beating the Pacers is a big deal as the Knicks hope to solidify a playoff bid before slipping into the January-February grind.
Amar'e Stoudemire had 26 points, six in the last three minutes. But really, New York's bench was the difference. Ronny Turiaf had 10 rebounds and six blocks off the pine, and Toney Douglas added 12 points and seven assists. Danilo Gallinari helped Amar'e with 19 points on way efficient shooting, but the Italian left the game in the fourth quarter after Brandon Rush rolled into his leg.
While the Pacers' defense is holdin' on, the offense is tough to come by. Indiana is now No. 24 in the NBA in offense, and No. 8 in defense. Darren Collison had a strong game (22 points, six assists), but the Pacers need more.
- Posting And Toasting is concerned with another massacre on the glass for the Knicks. Indy Cornrows blamed odd defensive personnel decisions in crunch time.
In other action:
Mavericks 104, Cavaliers 95: Cleveland is the cure for whatever ails your decimated team. Shawn Marion scored 22 in replacement of Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. DeShawn Stevenson scored 21 in Caron Butler's small forward spot. Those performances helped beat back former Mav Antawn Jamison's 35, and Dallas stopped the bleeding.
Blazers 100, Rockets 85: Portland is one of the weirdest good teams in recent memory, as the Blazers survived a bad night from Wesley Matthews (3-12 from the floor) to take a big win from Houston. Nicolas Batum had 21 points on 8-12 shooting, and I swear he looked like Kevin Martin for a minute.
Kings 94, Suns 89: DeMarcus Cousins is the most watchable rookie since, well, Blake Griffin. But DMC is watchable in another way. He's compelling, not fantastical. He's not going to draw out a littany of oohs, but you can't take your eyes off him when he's on the court. Luckily for Kings fans, he's come along well; Sunday's 28 points -- including 13 in the fourth quarter -- was the latest proof that there's gold under that skin. The Kings have won two of three, and only one required a prayer.