Cruising to their 64th victory of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers easily handled the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center, 92-75. Resting all of his starters in the 4th quarter, Phil Jackson returned to his throne after his one game sabbatical and witnessed his Bench Mob mop up the Grizzlies, outscoring them 30-21 for the game. The Lakers didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but neither did the Grizzlies. Los Angeles connected on 45% of its field goal attempts, but Memphis was a horrid 36.6%. The Lakers committed only 10 turnovers and recorded 13 steals. Andrew Bynum led the balanced attack with 18 points followed by Kobe Bryant with 16 points (7-9), 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a limited 29 minutes of action. Pau Gasol (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Trevor Ariza (12 points, 3 steals) rounded out the box scores for the home team. Memphis was led by rookie OJ Mayo with 20 points and Marc Gasol with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton and Sasha Vuacic all performed well tonight. Although no one put up big numbers, they distributed the ball well, rebounded, and forced the Grizzlies into taking poor shots. Odom, (3-10) made up for his poor shooting night by grabbing 5 rebounds and dishing off for 4 assists. Likewise, Walton added 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Vujacic matched Ariza with 3 steals to go along with his 9 points. Phil appears to be settling into bringing Shannon Brown off the bench first, and this has allowed Derek Fisher ample time to rest. But I expect Fisher’s minutes to rise dramatically as the playoffs begin. With Brown’s recent string of good performances, Jackson has another weapon to call upon to defend bigger guards and to steady the offense. Jordan Farmar’s struggles of late have resulted into poor playmaking decisions. In contrast, Brown has not forced his play, and this has led to very few turnovers while spelling Fisher. Farmar has apparently taken keen notice of this, as his play has calmed down tremendously. But in order for the Lakers to succeed, we need an aggressive and confident Farmar to contribute.
As the Lakers wind down their regular season, the only drama appears to be who they will face in the first round. Sitting one game behind Dallas, Utah is the current 8th seed in the West and the likely opponent. Of greater national interest, the Cleveland Cavaliers destroyed the Boston Celtics at home earlier today, 107-76, all but securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cavs lone home loss this season remains against the Lakers, minus an injured Andrew Bynum. The Lakers final game of the regular season is Tuesday against the Utah Jazz.
Extended Lakers playoff coverage will begin Wednesday on https://steveodesignedge.wordpress.com