Laker fans might just have to get used to the fact that their team is going to be battling until the end of games on a nightly basis, no matter how good (or bad) the level of competition might be. After L.A. went down to the wire before losing to the 22-6 Orlando Magic, they took almost as long to beat the 9-18 Memphis Grizzlies by a score of 105-96.
The Lakers got off to a slow start in Memphis, as they've done against inferior competition all season long. After being tied at 25 after one, L.A. found themselves down by eight at halftime, allowing the Grizzlies to put up 57 first half points. But the second half was a different story.
L.A. turned up the heat defensively, and allowed Memphis just 39 points the rest of the game. Even so, it was all tied up at 96 with under a minute to play, before the Lakers finished things on a 9-0 run, and shut the Grizzlies down on their final five possessions of the game. Kobe ended it with an exclamation point, stealing the ball and going the length of the floor for a dunk at the buzzer.
"Most teams, as the game winds down, it's going to end up in a screen-roll situation, with their best players having the ball and you have to be able to adjust and get it done," Fisher said. "And I think we did that tonight. I think it took us a while to figure out how they were going to attack us, their spacing on the floor."
It was nice to see the Lakers finally clamp down defensively on an opponent, as they did when things looked so promising over the first seven games of the season. But they still need to figure out why far less talented teams are able to play them even for 47 minutes, which is a troubling trend that continued in Memphis, despite the fact that the Lakers came away with the win.