Lakers Gameday | 01/13/08 | Lakers 100, Grizzlies 99
Lakers have enough after losing Bynum to win 6th straight
Kobe Bryant scored 37 points, Kwame Brown made a foul shot with 9.2 seconds remaining, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 100-99 Sunday night, but they might have lost outstanding young center Andrew Bynum in the process.
The Lakers extended their winning streak to six, their longest since they won 11 straight late in the 2003-04 season before going on to reach the NBA Finals. They haven't won a playoff series since that time.
Brown, a 38-percent foul shooter, connected on his first attempt to give the Lakers a 100-99 lead before missing the second. The Grizzlies had two shots at winning the game, but Kyle Lowry missed a runner in the lane and Hakim Warrick was way off the mark on a 3-pointer as time expired.
Bynum was helped off the court with a sprained left knee early in the third quarter after coming down on teammate Lamar Odom's left foot while going for a rebound under the Memphis basket.
The 20-year-old Bynum, a key factor in the Lakers' excellent start this season, dropped to the floor in obvious pain, clutching his knee.
Team spokesman John Black said X-rays were negative, but an MRI would be taken Monday and Bynum wouldn't travel to Seattle for that night's game against the SuperSonics.
Bynum had 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists and the Lakers led 66-55 when he was injured. Teammates Brown and Ronny Turiaf carried him to the locker room, and the 7-footer wasn't putting any weight on his left leg as he left the court.
Odom and Jordan Farmar scored 10 points each for the Lakers, who have won 16 of their last 19 to move within a half-game of Phoenix and Dallas, the Western Conference co-leaders. At 25-11, the Lakers are 14 games over .500 for the first time since they were 56-26 at the completion of the 2003-04 season.
The win was the 944th of Lakers coach Phil Jackson's career, tying him with Bill Fitch, his coach at the University of North Dakota, for sixth place on the NBA's list.
Mike Miller scored 27 points and Pau Gasol had 21 points and a season-high 18 rebounds and eight assists for the Grizzlies (10-27), who lost their fourth straight game.Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
When the Los Angeles Lakers last won six straight, they went on to the NBA finals while Memphis had the best season in franchise history. The Lakers are contenders again, but the Grizzlies are playing like an expansion team again.
Undefeated in 2008, the Lakers look to set a season high with their sixth straight win when they host the lowly Grizzlies on Sunday night.
Los Angeles (24-11) is back among the Western Conference's elite teams after finishing 42-40 last season.
The Lakers have a chance to win six in a row for the first time since an 11-game run from March 13-April 2, 2004. They went 56-26 that season before losing to Detroit in the NBA finals.
That season was also the most successful for Memphis (10-26) in its history, as it went 50-32 before losing to San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs. The Grizzlies franchise hadn't even come close to finishing near .500 in eight prior seasons after joining the league as an expansion team.
After three straight playoff appearances, Memphis went an NBA-worst 22-60 in 2006-07 and is again one of the league's worst teams. The Grizzlies have lost three straight, a skid that began with a 117-101 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night, and don't seem to have much chance of avoiding another defeat to Los Angeles.
"It has been a roller coaster year for us, and a series of roller coaster games," Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni said.
The Lakers have won 15 of 18 since coach Phil Jackson agreed to a two-year, $24 million contract extension on Nov. 29. Their next victory will tie Jackson with Bill Fitch, his coach at the University of North Dakota, for sixth place all-time at 944.
Los Angeles continues to get outstanding performances from Kobe Bryant -- he had 37 points despite battling a viral upper respiratory infection in a 110-105 win over Milwaukee on Friday night -- but Andrew Bynum's development is perhaps the biggest reason it is a top team again.
Bynum had 25 points and a career-high 17 rebounds against the Bucks. The third-year center has complemented Bryant by giving the Lakers a strong presence in the paint, averaging 13.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 63.4 percent from the field.
"By far he's much stronger," Jackson said of Bynum. "We told him to go to the ball. Last year a lot of them got knocked out of his hands when he was bringing it down, but this year he is controlling it."
Friday's win improved Los Angeles to 14-5 at home. Memphis, meanwhile, will be closing a three-game stretch on the road, where it is 4-14.
The Grizzlies have allowed 116 points or more in each of their last three games, including a 116-104 loss to Golden State on Friday night.
Memphis lost despite getting a season-high 43 points from Pau Gasol. He was one point shy of his career best, and also added 11 rebounds.
Gasol is averaging 20.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in his last nine games against the Lakers.Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers currently lead the season series with Memphis (1-0) after splitting last season’s series with Memphis (2-2) for the second time in series history. Prior to 2004-05, the Lakers had never lost a series to the Grizzlies but have since lost twice and split once. This will be the 48th meeting between the two franchises and the 25th since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis with Los Angeles leading the all-time series 35-12. In their last 10 games versus the Grizzlies, the Lakers are 4-6. The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 home games against the Grizzlies and are 11-4 all-time at STAPLES Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 21-8 against the Grizzlies. Individually, Kobe Bryant is averaging 22.5 points for his career against the Grizzlies in 41 games (34 starts). Last season in Memphis, Kobe Bryant scored a series-high 60 points, becoming only the third player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in three consecutive games en route to a 121-119 victory. The Lakers’ 121 points tied for the mark for most points given up by the Grizzlies to the Lakers. Earlier last season on January 9, Memphis scored a series-record 128 points en route to a 128-118 victory over the Lakers at FedEx Forum. Memphis’ 128 points were the most the Lakers have ever given up to the Grizzlies, surpassing the previous mark of 112 established at Vancouver on January 15, 2001.
WIRE TO WIRE
The Lakers have also played one game in which the opposite was true, having never held a lead in their November 23rd loss at Boston (94-107) while being tied just once in the contest. Last season, the Lakers lost FIVE games in which they trailed wire-to-wire while dropping SIX such games in 2005-06.
BRYANT ONE THREE-POINT FIELD GOAL SHY OF 1,000 FOR CAREER