Kobe leads Lakers past Grizz for 4th straight win
By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) Pau Gasol dipped his shoulder and spun, taking two steps and throwing down a vicious reverse dunk from the other side of the rim.
Sure, it was probably the most delicious moment in another game full of treats for the unbeaten Los Angeles Lakers. But Gasol insisted the move wasn't any sweeter because the posterized defender was his kid brother.
Kobe Bryant scored all of his 23 points in the first half, Gasol had 21 points and 13 rebounds against Marc, and the Lakers routed the Memphis Grizzlies 124-105 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win to open the season.
Gasol had another strong game after winning the season's first player-of-the-week award, adding five assists while jockeying for low-post position with his brother, who had 11 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.
``It's always more of a fun game for me to go against my former team and also my brother,'' Pau Gasol said before his mind went straight to that third-quarter dunk. ``That was a good play. I've done it a couple of times before - not on him, other good quality players.''
The Gasols got together Monday night for an expansive sushi dinner - ``He can eat,'' Pau said - but the Spaniards didn't talk hoops. And even back home in Barcelona, they never play one-on-one for fun - only in real games.
``We're too competitive for that,'' Marc Gasol said. ``We don't mess around, because we know one of us is going to be very mad and frustrated after the game, so we try not to talk about it before or after.''
Pau and Marc famously switched franchises in the trade that sent Pau from Memphis to the Lakers three seasons ago, a twist of fate that used to bother Marc much more.
``I'm very proud about what Pau has done here,'' Marc said. ``He's making his teammates better and he's making his team better. That's always your goal as a player. Pau always plays hard and always tried to win basketball games. That's all he cares about.''
Even if they keep things civil their matchups, their teammates love to watch the low-post play that provided some entertainment in an otherwise one-sided win for the Lakers, who went up by 29 points in the first half.
``I'm glad (Pau) finally dunked on him,'' Bryant said with a grin. ``I was worried he was going a little soft on him.''
There's nothing soft so far about the two-time defending champions. Lamar Odom had 17 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles, while Bryant fell one minute short of matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the Lakers' franchise leader in minutes played because he sat out the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gay scored 30 points and Mike Conley had 16 points and eight assists after agreeing to a five-year, $40 million contract extension earlier Tuesday with the Grizzlies, who opened a four-game road trip with their fourth straight road loss to the Lakers.
Matt Barnes added 16 points as the Lakers hit 14 3-pointers, including three apiece by Bryant, Odom and Shannon Brown, who scored 13 points. Los Angeles is one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the NBA after outrebounding Memphis 59-36.
Just as in Sunday's win over Golden State, Los Angeles opened with fluid offense and strong defense, forcing the Grizzlies to miss their first nine shots. The Lakers led by 11 points at the close of the first quarter, and punched it to 29 points while outscoring Memphis 39-23 in the second.
``We've got to start off better,'' Conley said. ``You can't get behind 10 or more points to a good team. We've got to play with more energy from the start. They were playing great defense, really packing it in and making it tough on us.''
Odom's 3-pointer put the Lakers up 53-28 midway through the second quarter, and they led 73-46 at halftime - their highest-scoring half since a win over the Clippers on Jan. 15.
``It was the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, man,'' said O.J. Mayo, who scored just eight points. ``It was just hard to get back into it.''
Memphis trimmed the lead to 14 midway through the third quarter after a lengthy run featuring 13 points from Gay, but the Grizzlies got never threatened to make it a game.
NOTES: Odom scored his 11,000th career point, becoming the 10th-fastest player in NBA history to reach 11,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists. ... Earlier Tuesday, Bryant told coach Mike Krzyzewski he's committed to playing for the U.S. national team at the London Olympics in 2012. ... Memphis big man Zach Randolph was inactive with a bruised tailbone. He could return during the road trip. ``That's a bad place to have an injury,'' coach Lionel Hollins said before the game. ``You don't realize how much you move that tailbone when you're playing and doing things.'' ... Fans near courtside included singer Trey Songz, David Beckham and director Adam McKay.
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