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Grizzlies fall to Lakers

With its fourth capacity crowd of the season, FedExForum was full of energy on Monday night, but the Grizzlies ultimately could not recapture the magic the team had in its previous home win over the Lakers on Nov. 30, falling 93-84 to the two-time defending champions.

“I thought the Lakers did an outstanding job,” Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins said. “You have to give them a lot of credit.”

Six Lakers scored in double figures, led by Kobe Bryant’s 19, to lead a balanced Los Angeles attack to the victory.

“It was an important game for us to win,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

The Grizzlies had opportunities and only trailed by five heading into the fourth period, but key three-point baskets by a trio of Lakers put the game out of reach. Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest all connected on fourth-quarter treys, which ignited an 11-0 Lakers run, dooming the Grizzlies hopes of a third-straight victory over L.A.

“I think we got a little frustrated at the end,” Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said. “We didn’t get what we wanted. When you don’t execute against teams like this one, it’s really hard to get buckets. They took away the paint, where we do most of our damage. They did a good job.”

The first quarter proved to be highly competitive. The Grizzlies appeared to be in command, taking a 27-19 lead on a Gasol lay-up with under 90 seconds remaining in the period. The Lakers answered back, though, closing the quarter on a 7-2 run to trail by three. The Grizzlies shot nearly 55 percent in the opening period.

The Lakers picked up their defensive intensity in the second period, regaining their first lead since the opening two minutes of the game after a Steve Blake steal and assist to Odom for a dunk with less than nine minutes in the second period.

Los Angles would go on to outscore the Grizzlies by eight in the quarter to take a 50-45 lead at the intermission. L.A.’s stifling defense held Memphis to under 24 percent shooting in the quarter. Sam Young led the Grizzlies with 14 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Bryant and Pau Gasol had 10 apiece to pace the Lakers.

“It doesn’t matter what sport you look at, defense is universal,” Bryant said on the Lakers defensive effort. “You defend, you win. That is our job. We have to make it tough for the opposition.”

Following the intermission, Los Angeles began the third quarter on a 10-4 run after back-to-back three-pointers by Fisher and Artest. Following Artest’s trey, Coach Hollins called a timeout to settle his team as they trailed 60-49. The timeout proved to be a positive choice as the Grizzlies responded by trimming a 13-point deficit to two with 2:55 left in the quarter. Rudy Gay scored nine points in the period to keep the Grizzlies in the contest.

The Lakers secured a memorable win despite shooting just 60 percent from the charity stripe.

Young put together a career-high tying 22-point effort in the defeat.

The Grizzlies fell to 27-26 on the season and travel to Oklahoma City Tuesday to play in the second half of a back-to-back. With the win, the Lakers improved to 36-16 and remain in second place in the competitive Western Conference.