7:30 PM ET, December 20, 2004
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
"We really wanted this game," said Battier, in his fourth season with the Grizzlies. "We had never won in this building against the Lakers, and it's a good win for this organization. We are happy we could get the goose egg off the board."
The Grizzlies' streak of road futility against the Lakers included 12 losses at the Forum in Inglewood. The Lakers have had longer regular-season home winning streaks against four other teams -- including a 43-game stretch against the Sacramento Kings franchise that dated back to the Kansas City-Omaha days.
They also won 27 straight home games against the Clippers, 26 in a row against Dallas, and had a 20-game run against Seattle that began with the SuperSonics' first visit to Los Angeles.
"It was rewarding. We never won in my first three years here, so it felt really good to pull a win out of here," Pao Gasol said. "That team without Shaquille is different because he was a big presence inside. But they had issues with him, and it was their decision to trade him. It's their loss, because he's one of the most dominating players in the league.
"They have a lot of good players who can produce and are playing well, but I don't think they are at that championship level right now," Gasol said. "They have to have a bigger presence inside, I think."
It was a season-high third straight victory for the Grizzlies, who made the playoffs last season for the first time in club history after winning a franchise-record 50 games -- 22 more than their previous best.
"I thought we did a really good job of bringing energy," Battier said. "It seemed like every pass was being contested and every shot was contested. It was a nice display of team defense tonight."
Gasol, the Grizzlies' scoring leader, was blanked for his first 15:52 on the floor before making a reverse layup with 57 seconds left in the first half. He finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes and was just 5-for-18 from the field.
"I wasn't strong enough in the first half and I was playing soft, so I was trying to step up in the second half and my legs responded well," said Gasol, whose attempted layup was blocked by Bryant with 5:33 remaining and the Lakers down by four. "We did a great job defensively, we rebounded and executed on offense."
Caron Butler scored 16 points for Los Angeles and Bryant had 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds. The Lakers shot 31.9 percent from the field, including 5-for-28 from 3-point range, and did not make a field goal in the final 6:52. It was the fourth time this season they shot less than 40 percent.
"They played great defensively," Bryant said. "They just sagged in and turned us into an all-perimeter team. They just kept me out on the perimeter. Most of my shots were bail-out shots with the clock winding down, or shots with a hand in my face."
Battier, coming off the bench for the second straight game after missing the previous two because of a sprained right ankle, drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Memphis a 69-63 lead after three quarters.
The Lakers, 0-10 when trailing after three quarters, never led in the fourth. The closest they got was 69-63 on a 3 by Brian Cook in the opening minute of the period. The Grizzlies extended their margin to 79-71 on a pair of free throws by Gasol and a layup by Miller with 2:46 to play. Miller's 3-pointer clinched it with 49 seconds left.
Lakers center Chris Mihm, who played 18 scoreless minutes in Friday's overtime loss to Washington, got nine of his 13 points in the first quarter to help the Lakers take a 48-44 halftime lead and overcome 14 points by Battier.
The Grizzlies, back at Staples Center one night after beating the Clippers 92-82, didn't take their first lead against the Lakers until Gasol's tip-in put them ahead 58-57 with 6:19 left in the third quarter.
Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello, 7-4 since taking over for Hubie Brown on Dec. 2, had to go to his bench early after Miller and James Posey each picked up two fouls in the first 6:46. The Grizzlies also had a tough start offensively, getting their first two shots blocked and turning the ball over twice on 24-second violations.
The last time the Grizzlies played the Lakers in L.A., they blew a 19-point lead and lost 103-95. ... The only team the Grizzlies haven't beaten on the road is Indiana (0-8). ... Dodgers vice president Tommy Lasorda was among the sellout crowd of 18,997. Fratello once was a Dodgers batboy for a day when Lasorda managed the team. ... The Lakers have lost their last three road games against the Grizzlies, and are 31-6 against them altogether. ... Lakers C Vlade Divac did not suit up because of a sore back.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||31-84 (.369)||23-72 (.319)|
|3PM-3PA||9-21 (.429)||5-28 (.179)|
|FTM-FTA||11-14 (.786)||21-30 (.700)|
|Fast Break Points||7||10|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (1/0)||18 (1/0)|