Grizzlies fend off Lakers

BY foxsports • February 27, 2014

MEMPHIS -- It's never been about looks for the Memphis Grizzlies. Ugly is just fine, especially now. The Grizzlies need all the wins they can get -- and a little bit of help -- to find some comfort near the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. A 108-103 win against the depleted Lakers Wednesday was as good a win as any at this point. Here are three observations from the game.

1. Win 'em while you got 'em.

The win and Phoenix's loss gets the Grizzlies (32-24) within a half game of the Suns for that eighth spot. Memphis can't pretend not to be scoreboard watching. A standings board the eye can't miss hangs just inside the locker room.

It can't afford any off-nights. Only 10 more of the Grizzlies 26 remaining games are at FedExForum.

"Obviously we watch it," said Tony Allen. "You see we've got it standing over there. But for the most part, we want to take it one game at a time.

Sure, that's the right thing to say, but the right answer is ...

"If we can win home games and establish a presence here, make teams afraid to come to Memphis and play, it makes the season much easier," point guard Mike Conley said. "We're not going to have many home games in this last couple months. Each one is magnified."

Memphis has won four in a row at home and has the third-best home record in the NBA since January 10 at 10-2.

The Grizzlies probably beat the Lakers a little easier than the final score appeared because L.A. hit 15 3-pointers and trimmed a 22-point lead to as little as three on Jordan Farmar's last 3-pointer in the final seconds. 

Missing Steve Nash, Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Xavier Henry and of course, Kobe, Wesley Johnson may have given up a double-double to Marc Gasol, but he hit 4-of-8 from deep. Farmar hit 4-of-6 as the Lakers shot 53.6 percent behind the arc. Memphis made 4-of-13.

There are no computers to impress, only a playoff ladder to climb. The next rung is Friday at Oklahoma City, then Saturday against Cleveland, another game Memphis should -- and almost has to -- win. 

2. These are the 10, but the order is TBD.

Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said after Friday's win against the Clippers that the next two games would go a long way in determining the 8-and-a-half man rotation he wants to use going forward.

Wednesday he used 10, with Ed Davis and Jon Leuer the odd men out. The team has reportedly added Beno Udrih to back up Mike Conley, so it remains to be seen how he fits in and what effect that has on Nick Calathes.

James Johnson has added a spark to the lineup -- he scored 14 Wednesday as the first player off the bench -- and he and Allen obviously have court chemistry on both ends. Two of Allen's 17 points came off a Johnson block in the second quarter.

"I know who I'm going to play," Joerger said. "I just don't know who is going to play with whom yet. I don't know that Tony and James are great. I know what everyone sees. But in playoff-style basketball, I don't know that that's a great combination to play."

3. Missing that killer instinct.

Pau Gasol drew some ire from Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni before the game for comments he made following the Lakers' 20-point loss at Indiana the night before. Gasol said some of his teammates were playing selfishly. 

Things seemed to have calmed by the time they had lost for the 26th time in 32 games and fell 20 games under .500 at 19-39.

Pau had 17 points and 10 boards in his return. 

"I think we are shooting the ball well in the beginning of the game," Pau Gasol said. "We were maybe a little too comfortable. We got into it and stepped it up a notch. We gave ourselves a chance. That is what we have to ask ourselves every single game."

D'Antoni wanted it kept in the locker room.

Joerger says his team may be too selfless and wants it all on the table.

Memphis had 28 assists. Maybe that's not such a good thing, too much passing and not enough selfish attacking. 

"We over-passed," Joerger said. "We turned the ball over by trying to be too cute, instead of just making the play that needed to be made ... I thought we had a chance to score 125 or 130."

Memphis had 31 points after a quarter and a season-high 65 at the break.

"That's something that we definitely struggle with I think is the consistency of when we have a good lead to extend it, not just be happy with it," Conley said. "We haven't been able to do that." 

Courtney Lee's 18 led five in double figures. Zach Randolph had 13 and seven boards. Marc Gasol had 14 points and 12 rebounds. 

Marc is still getting used to playing with the Toyota Prius-sized brace around the ACL that had him sitting 23 games.

"I'm embracing the brace," he said.

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