Kobe Bryant bid farewell to Memphis, as the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, 128-119, on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies led wire-to-wire after former Laker Matt Barnes caught fire from beyond the three-point line early. Barnes would eventually finish with 25 points with five three-pointers to his name. In the loss, Jordan Clarkson led all scorers with 28 points, as he hit six of his long range attempts, which was a new career-high.
In terms of game play, the Lakers fell apart at the start, struggled to get back into the game before falling apart and never getting back into the game.
In the first quarter, the Lakers trailed by as many 15 points due to a sluggish start, which was fueled by careless decisions by rookie D'Angelo Russell. By the time Russell went to the bench about midway through the opening period, the Lakers already trailed by double-digits. Luckily for LA, Nick Young came in off the bench with a hot hand and scored eight points before the end of the quarter and helped keep the Lakers to within 10 points at the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, Russell earned an extended stretch of play by playing all 12 minutes, and the former Ohio State Buckeye immediately made amends for his poor showing earlier in the game. The 20-year-old scored 14 points in the second period on 50 percent shooting to enter the locker room with an impressive stat line of 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes.
In his final trip to Memphis, Bryant drew attention before the game and had just about every pair of eyes at the FedEx forum fixated on his every movement during the game. In the first half, the 37-year-old entered the intermission with nine points on 11 shots, as he constantly dueled with longtime foe Vince Carter.
Bryant may have easily edged his fellow NBA veteran the first half head-to-head battles, but the Grizzlies still led by nine points at the intermission.
Similar to the first quarter, the Lakers failed to come out of the locker room and execute. Instead of closing the gap, the Lakers allowed the Grizzlies to jump out to a 17-point advantage with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter. By the end of the quarter, the Lakers trimmed that deficit to 13 points, but a comeback seemed unlikely.
In the fourth quarter, the Lakers' second unit again brought the game into a single-digit contest. Lou Williams took charge and scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth period, but LA never threatened to take the lead and never led at any point during the 48 minutes.
Bryant would come back in with about five minutes remaining in the game, but the Lakers had no chance of winning the game. The fans appreciated the extra bit of Bryant, as no. 24 hit a long three and heard loud applause from the home fans. Bryant left the court to yet another impressive ovation in a visiting arena and ended his night with 13 points in 29 minutes.
The Lakers fell to 11-48 on the season, while the Grizzlies improved to 33-23. For LA, Wednesday marked the seventh straight defeat and fourth in a row following the All-Star break. Next, the same two teams will meet again on Friday night at Staples Center.
Notes: Russell finished with 22 points, eight assists and four rebounds. The eight assists marked a new career-high. Julius Randle finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds, which marked a team-high 24th double-double. All five Grizzlies' starters scored in double-digits.