Court Vision: Bench finally contributes as Grizzlies top Lakers
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Going inside the Grizzlies’ 107-102 win against the Lakers, as the bench revived and Kobe Bryant set a record he didn’t really want. And Kenyon Martin was at FedExForum. He will reportedly work out for Memphis (7-1) on Wednesday.
Through seven games, Memphis’ bench was only Cleveland-away from being the least productive in the NBA. Every team, except the Cavaliers’ 19.7 points per game off the pine, was better than Memphis’ 20.4.
Against the Lakers (1-6), the Grizzlies’ reserves scored 38 points, backup point guard Beno Udrih becoming the team’s first double-digit scorer (16) off the bench this season.
"I think they were tired of hearing about the bench not producing," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "I mean, at some point it’s got to stop, right? I think they were excited to make a statement … just see the basketball go in the basket a couple of times. That’s just human basketball nature, like you feel better. It’s a positive reinforcement of a made basket."
Udrih hit his first five shots. He finished 8 for 11 and had three assists. Backup center Kosta Koufos had 14 on 5-for-5 shooting. He made all four from the line and had three rebounds.
The bench was shooting an NBA-low 32.5 percent from the field and an NBA-25th 25 percent from deep. They outscored the Lakers’ subs by 24.
Kobe Bryant put Mike Conley and Courtney Lee in the NBA history books. From the left side of the lane, Bryant shot over the four hands of Conley and Lee. When the 14-foot turnaround fade-away clanked off the front of the rim with 6:23 to play, Bryant missed the 13,418th shot of his career, a new NBA record, one more than Boston Celtics guard John Havlicek.
"Oh yeah?" Bryant said.
He seemed genuinely not to know and even more genuinely not to care.
"Well, I’m a shooting guard who’s played 19 years," Bryant said, shoulder shrugging, but smiling. "Like I said, shooting guard, 19th year."
Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third in NBA career field goal attempts. Bryant missed only two more and scored eight points in the final 5 minutes, 16 seconds as the Lakers fought back from a 17-point deficit to get within 103-100 on his 3-pointer.
Hassled by Tony Allen most of the night, Bryant finished with a game-high 28 points on 10 of 26, 3 for 10 from deep. He had seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
It should also be noted that Bryant is the active NBA scoring leader, fourth all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Jordan.
Is there a miss Kobe wants back?
"Yeah, all the ones where I’ve had to try to bail the team out at the end of the shot clock … annoys the crap outta me. Kills my field goal percentage."
Memphis is an unsecretive inside-first team. Tuesday, bigs Marc Gasol (8 points, 9 rebounds) and Zach Randolph (11 and 10 for his sixth double-double) had trouble getting going. Even with the bench production, that’s a concern.
"Our passing leaves a lot to be desired," Joerger said. "So sometimes, those guys are not getting the ball in the spots they need to get it when they need to get it. When you’ve got 260 and 270 banging on each other, it’s just such a wrestling match. You need to get it when you’ve got a chance to get it."
Joerger took the blame, vowing to improve the timing from the wings. Practice would help. The Grizzlies played seven games in 11 days to open the season, fitting only one practice in nearly two weeks.
Joerger is looking for more. Kobe was looking for fewer … questions.
Los Angeles trailed 105-102 with 37.1 seconds to play. After Memphis turned the ball over in on an inbounds violation, Jordan Hill missed a 21-footer. Conley grabbed the rebound and Randolph would tip in the game-sealer. Bryant was asked, tirelessly, about not getting the shot.
"It was just confusion, man, just a misunderstanding. It happens when you’re new and we’re all just kind of getting to know each other," Bryant said. "It’s as simple as a misunderstanding. Y’all trying to make a mountain out of a (expletive) molehill."
Asked for the seventh consecutive time: "Dude, dude, let it go. I know you guys are hungry for content, but my goodness, it was a misunderstanding, man. Thought (coach Byron Sparks) said two-for-one, we ran a sequence. Jordan got a good look. It is what it is, man, let it go. Sheez."
21 for 26: Memphis shot nine more free throws than Los Angeles and made eight more. It was the second straight game with more than 25 trips to the line. In the season’s only loss, Saturday night at Milwaukee, Memphis hit 31 of 34.
18: Rebounds for Gasol and Randolph. On a night they weren’t scoring, the offensive glass set the tone early. Allen had four offensive rebounds in the first quarter, seven rebounds in the game.