Rapid Reaction: Lakers 96, Grizzlies 92

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
7:29
PM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- What better way to finish a dreary, injury-plagued trip than to face a team that has been hit harder by the injury bug than you?

The Los Angeles Lakers showed up in Memphis without any true point guards Tuesday only to find out the Memphis Grizzlies were going to be without their young star point guard Mike Conley, who had bruised his thigh in a loss to Minnesota on Sunday.

They took advantage.

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol each scored 21 points, and Nick Young had 18 to lead the Lakers to a 96-92 win over the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.

Playing in only his sixth game since returning from a torn Achilles tendon, and fourth game in five nights, Bryant played a season-high 33 minutes.

He appeared to twist his knee midway through the third quarter after getting tangled with Memphis' Tony Allen but stayed in the game and was effective down the stretch.

Gasol had one of his most effective games of the season against his old team, hitting nine of his 12 shots and grabbing a team-high nine rebounds.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 18 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, but the Grizzlies clearly missed their floor leader and lost their fourth straight game to fall to 10-14 on the season.

How it happened: The Lakers led by as many as 15 points in the first half and looked to be putting the injury-plagued Grizzlies away early until Memphis' second unit came in and turned it into a tight game. The Lakers' reserves did a nice job at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth quarter to build the lead to as many as 11 points before the Grizzlies made it close again toward the end. Bryant and Gasol scored 11 points in the final six minutes of the game to close it out.

What it means: Although this in no way diminishes the Lakers' need to get one of their injured point guards back ASAP, Tuesday's win was nice way to end this four-game, point guard-less trip. They'll have a couple of days off before playing at home Friday.

Hits: Bryant put his stamp on this game early, scoring eight points in the first quarter and 21 overall on 9-for-18 shooting. He was particularly effective out of the post against Allen, rookie Jamaal Franklin and Jerryd Bayless.

Misses: A night after scoring 21 points on perfect 8-for-8 shooting, Jordan Hill got into early foul trouble and was basically a nonfactor. Hill played only eight minutes, leaving Shawne Williams to pick up the slack.

Stat of the game: 12. As in, 12th place. As in, the place in the Western Conference standings where the winner of Tuesday's game was going to find itself. That was where the Lakers were projected to finish this season by ESPN, but not at all what the Grizzlies had in mind after making the conference finals a season ago.

Up next: After four games in five nights away from home, the Lakers get a couple of nights at home to recover before hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Point guard Jordan Farmar (hamstring) is scheduled to have an ultrasound Wednesday, which will determine whether he is cleared to resume practice Thursday and has a chance at playing Friday.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0