Andrew Bynum had one of the best games of his career and together with Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to a thrilling 116-111 victory on the road over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night. Bynum scored 37 points and added 16 rebounds, while Bryant scored 34 -- the pair combined to score 71 of the Lakers 116. It was the second highest scoring game of Bynum's career.
With Rudy Gay missing the game after suffering a concussion against the Nuggets Sunday, the Grizzlies were playing without their top three forwards -- Zach Randolph has been out since early January with an MCL injury, and Darrell Arthur was lost for the year during the preseason with a torn Achilles. But as they have for the better part of two seasons now, playing without Gay for their playoff run last year and without Randolph since early this season, the Grizzlies did an admirable job, shorthanded though they were.
Memphis built a 17 point lead midway through the third quarter on the strength of their pressure defense. The Grizzlies lead the league in steals per game at 10, and they pilfered 15 in this game. The steals also led to easy baskets -- Memphis outscored the Lakers in fast break points 22-5. Those easy points were crucial to Memphis, who struggled to score in the half court without Gay.
When LA was able to take care of the ball and get it inside, they began to chip away at the lead. Memphis had no answer for Bynum, who made 15-18 field goals and 7-8 free throws in an astoundingly efficient offensive performance. Many of his baskets came on simple passes to the rim, where Bynum does a great job of sealing and is just too big for anybody to handle.
Memphis was still clinging to a five point lead with 2:30 left after Marreese Speights scored his 24th and 25th points of the game. At that point the Lakers reeled off seven straight, all scored or assisted by Bryant, to take a two point lead. Marc Gasol tied the game on the subsequent possession, and after a Kobe miss, Memphis had a chance to win the game in regulation. Mike Conley's three-pointer came up short and the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime, neither team led by more than two points. This time the Lakers got the chance to win it at the buzzer, but Kobe's 12 footer hit the front of the rim. The Lakers were finally able to take control in the second overtime, with Bryant and Bynum scoring all 10 points of a 10-2 run to close the game.
The Grizzlies attempt fewer three-pointers than any other NBA team, but if they could have made anything from deep Tuesday night they would likely have won the game. Memphis finished 2-19 from beyond the arc -- O.J. Mayo was 0-8 by himself.
Speights' season-high 25 led the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol added 20, but took 25 shots to get there. Tony Allen scored 18.
The win improves the Lakers to 26-16 overall, 8-14 on the road. They now have a two-game lead over the Clippers in the Pacific Division. Memphis drops to 24-17 overall, 15-6 at home.