Friday night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies finished 106-98, but the game was lost in the first 12 minutes. Watching the Grizzlies jump out to a 34-12 lead at the onset highlighted two facts about the current Los Angeles Lakers: they cannot defend and they lack an offensive identity.
With Steve Nash on the shelf, the Lakers have been unable to push the ball effectively and consistently, only managing eight fast break points on Friday night. The Lakers have also been unable to break 100 points in three straight games, hardly the Mike D’Antoni effect most expected.
Meanwhile, the defense had more holes in it than Swiss cheese, allowing 113 points to Sacramento and 106 points to Memphis. As a positive, Dwight Howard was moving and jumping with ease, swatting away four blocks. The newest Lakers big man has recorded at least three blocks in six of the last seven games. Still, the Lakers lost the battle in the paint for the second game in a row; the Laker were outscored 40-24 in points in the paint.
Against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers were able to cut the lead to only five points with about five minutes remaining. However, the Lakers were neither able to score during crunch time nor get stops. After cutting the lead to five points, the Lakers were outscored 11-8 down the stretch, and the Lakers dropped to 0-4 on the road this season.
The Lakers did show some positive signs in the game. Antawn Jamison contributed his best performance since moving to Los Angeles. Jamison scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds off the bench. Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon also continued to contribute, as the Lakers bench combined to score 30 of the Lakers 98 points.
Ultimately, Pau Gasol just did not show up. In D’Antoni’s eyes, Gasol didn’t have his shot, and the Spaniard scored only six points on the night. For the first time in Gasol’s memory, he was benched and watched the end of the game from the sidelines. While Gasol was on the floor, the Lakers were negative 23 points, so it was hard to argue with D’Antoni’s decision.
After the game, D’Antoni was asked about benching Gasol and replied, “He’ll be rested for tomorrow, that’s for sure.” The Lakers play the Mavericks in Dallas on Saturday evening.