Gasol's late heroics lift Memphis over Kobe, Lakers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Pau Gasol's low-post dominance and a
determined starting backcourt of ex-Los Angeles Lakers were enough
to help the Memphis Grizzlies escape Staples Center with a
one-point win for the second time this season.

Gasol scored four of his 31 points in the final 53 seconds,
Eddie Jones had 25 points against his former team, and the
Grizzlies kept Kobe Bryant in check en route to a 100-99 victory
over the Lakers on Saturday night.

"I'm ecstatic for the guys because they've had so many games
like this in the last three weeks where they've been around but
haven't finished the games off," coach Mike Fratello said. "Just
when it looked like it was slipping away again tonight, they dug

Former Lakers guard Chucky Atkins had 18 points, including a
tiebreaking free throw with 3 seconds left, as the Grizzlies ended
a season-worst five-game losing streak and a six-game road skid.
Memphis has won three of its last four games against the Lakers in
Los Angeles, after losing the first 18.

Bryant scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and
Smush Parker added 20 for the Lakers. Bryant, who came in averaging
a league-leading 35.4 points, missed 12 of his first 17 shots and
finished 10-for-28 from the field.

"They executed much better than we did down the stretch and got
big plays when they needed to," Bryant said. "We didn't make the
stops that we needed to. Offensively we did all right, but
defensively we weren't able to keep guys in front of us at the end
at we put them at the free throw line.

"I don't even know how many free throws they shot in the fourth
quarter (12-for-17), but I assume it's a lot -- especially at the
end of the game. That's when we have to buckle down and make them
make shots -- not bail them out with free points."

Bryant made a 3-pointer that triggered a run of eight straight
points by the nine-time All-Star and gave the Lakers an 86-77 lead
with 7:48 to play. But Jones' 3-pointer capped a 9-2 spurt and got
Memphis within 90-89 with 3:53 remaining.

Bryant gave the Lakers some breathing room with a 14-footer,
Kwame Brown converted an offensive rebound of Lamar Odom's long
miss into a 3-point play and Bryant drained a 20-footer for a 99-95
lead with 1:07 left. But the Grizzlies wouldn't quit.

Brown tied a season high with 18 points and grabbed eight
rebounds before fouling out with 53 seconds to go. Gasol sank both
free throws, then blocked a shot by Odom at the other end and tied
the score at 99 on a layup with 29 seconds left.

"The last few games were tough because I didn't produce in the
last five minutes," Gasol said. "Tonight it was time to step up,
be a little more aggressive and produce. Luckily I was aggressive
and things worked out well."

Gasol missed a free throw attempting to complete a three-point
play, but Brian Cook missed a 16-footer for the Lakers and Atkins
made one of two free throws for a one-point lead.

"I would take that same shot again," Cook said. "It felt
good, but it was just short. I had the confidence to take it, and I
will shoot it again if I ever have a chance."

Devean George rebounded the ball on Atkins' second free throw
attempt, and the Lakers had a chance to pull out the win. But
Bryant was closely guarded by Jones through two screens and missed
a long jumper he got off after the final buzzer.

"I didn't quite get the look that I wanted to get. I'm not sure
if I even got it off in time," Bryant said.

Memphis reserve guard Mike Miller missed his second straight
game because of a sprained left ankle. So there was no rematch
between himself and Bryant, whose flagrant foul against Miller on
Dec. 28 at Staples Center earned Bryant a two-game suspension
without pay. The flagrant foul was in retaliation for an earlier
play, when Miller drove to the basket and left Bryant with a gash
over his left eye that required three stitches.

The Lakers, returning from a 2-5 road trip, lost for the first
time in seven home games since a 98-94 loss to Utah in the first
game of Bryant's suspension. Center Chris Mihm missed his fourth
straight game because of a sprained right shoulder.

Cook, who totaled 55 points in his previous two games, was
rendered useless for the final 10:49 of the first half after
picking up his third foul -- and a technical foul from referee Joe
Forte for arguing the call. The foul came 50 seconds after the
frustrated Cook shot an airball from behind the 3-point arc.

Game notes
Before the opening tip, Magic Johnson presented Bryant with
a warmup jacket that had logo patches from all nine of Bryant's
All-Star games sewn into the sleeves. ... With his 639th victory as
an NBA head coach, Fratello passed Chuck Daly for 17th place
all-time. Next on the list is Red Holzman at 696. ... Jones was
ejected midway through the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies' 100-99
overtime win over the Lakers at Staples Center on Dec. 28.


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