MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- With their playoff hopes all but gone, Los
Angeles Lakers coach Frank Hamblen knew that there was no reason to
keep an injured Kobe Bryant on the floor.
With Sunday's 102-82 loss to Memphis, the Lakers have dropped 11
of their last 12 games, including eight straight on the road.
Los Angeles, already short-handed with Chris Mihm hurt and Lamar
Odom placed on the injured list before the game, got limited time
from Bryant, who left the game in the second quarter with a right
"He was out there limping around, and he's too valuable of a
property to risk in a game like this," Hamblen said.
Lakers officials said Bryant was kicked in the shin during the
team's loss in San Antonio on Saturday night and he aggravated the
injury against the Grizzlies.
Bryant played the first quarter and had nine of the Lakers' 14
first-quarter points. When he returned to the game near the
6-minute mark of the second quarter, he was limping. He was removed
from the game during the next timeout and had an icepack wrapped
around his right leg. He is day-to-day.
The loss put Los Angeles 8½ games behind seventh-place Memphis
and Denver with nine to play.
"We're not going to run the table the rest of the way,"
Hamblen said, "and the other teams aren't going to lose every
"We know elimination is coming."
Mike Miller scored 22 points to help the Grizzlies move into the
tie with idle Denver. The two teams are three games ahead of
ninth-place Minnesota, which beat Sacramento earlier Sunday.
Los Angeles also lost Brian Grant in the second quarter to a
pair of technicals, leaving the Lakers with a makeshift lineup the
rest of the way.
"Certain nights you catch teams who are short-handed or catch
them on the second night of a back-to-back," Memphis coach Mike
Fratello said. "They played a tough game (at San Antonio Saturday
night), and they got tired tonight.
"It's been a tough stretch for the Lakers."
Memphis led by 27 in the first half, and the Lakers never cut
the deficit into single digits.
Lorenzen Wright added 16 points for Memphis, while Brian
Cardinal had 15 points off the bench. Pau Gasol had 13 points and
10 rebounds. Gasol, who missed 23 games with a foot injury, has
scored in double figures the last three games.
Memphis built a 32-14 lead in the first period as the Lakers
struggled from the field. Bryant had four field goals, but the rest
of the team missed 11 of its 12 shots.
"I got two quick fouls, and then our intensity wasn't there,"
Grant said. "(Memphis) is very hard-nosed. ...If you are not ready
for them then what happened to us will happen to you. They will
The Lakers actually got an offensive spark in the second half
after Bryant left the game. Butler keyed the rally with nine
points, and Sasha Vujacic had seven as Los Angeles cut into the
Memphis lead. The Grizzlies carried a 79-64 lead into the fourth
Memphis dominated the inside with a 58-32 advantage in the paint
for the game and outrebounded the Lakers 54-41.
"I think it is simple for us," Memphis forward Shane Battier
said. "When we rebound, we win. When we struggle to rebound, we
make it really tough on ourselves. That's the bottom line."
Memphis won all three games against the Lakers this season,
marking the first Grizzlies sweep of Los Angeles in franchise
history. ...The medical list for the game was long. The Lakers were
without Odom and Mihm, who injured his right ankle in Saturday's
loss at San Antonio. Meanwhile, Memphis placed C/F Stromile Swift
on the injured list prior to the game with an irregular heartbeat
and was without F James Posey, who is still recovering from a
bruised right hip. ... Grant was ejected when he threw an elbow
into the chest of Gasol. The two exchanged words and Grant got a
second tech, sending him to the locker room. Gasol also received a
technical in the confrontation. ...Vujacic had 10 points, a
career-high for the rookie from Slovenia. ...The Grizzlies
announced Sunday that Dick Versace, the team's general manager, is
leaving effective immediately to pursue other professional
opportunities. Versace had been with the organization since 1999.