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Memphis Grizzlies run past Los Angeles Lakers

By Don Wade, The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 25, 2016 at 1:28 AM
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In going to the playoffs five straight years, the Memphis Grizzlies forged their reputation first on defense.

But with center Marc Gasol (broken foot) lost for the remainder of the season and trades that have churned the rotation, the Grizzlies are in a fast-forward adjustment mode. And on Wednesday night at FedExForum, that resulted in a run-and-gun 128-119 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We're used to hanging on our hat on the defensive end," said Memphis point guard Mike Conley, who finished with 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds. "We're a different team. We're gonna give up a couple of buckets. But we have a lot of firepower."

Veteran forward Matt Barnes supplied some of that firepower with a season-high 25 points, 18 coming in the first half. Barnes hit 5-of-9 treys, grabbed eight rebounds and had two assists, a steal and a block.

Memphis (33-23) opened the game with an 18-4 run and never looked back.

"We wanted to get out to a good start," Conley said. "Matt led us early with outside shooting and energy."

The Grizzlies' 128 points marked a season high. But coach Dave Joerger also found areas that need work, such as allowing 119 points and giving up 17 makes behind the arc, 15 offensive rebounds and letting the Lakers get to the free-throw line 33 times.

"We've got to build that trust," Joerger said. "That's basically a new group of guys playing together defensively."

Los Angeles (11-48) lost its seventh straight, six of the defeats coming on the road.

Coming into Wednesday's game, opponents were shooting 46.9 percent from the floor (28th in the NBA) against the Lakers and Memphis shot 56.5 percent.

"The last three games, especially, we just haven't been able to guard anyone," said Lakers coach Byron Scott. "Teams are pretty much scoring at will, outside and inside."

The Lakers shot 44.3 percent from the field and guard Jordan Clarkson led them in scoring with 28 points and added six rebounds and three assists. Kobe Bryant, playing at FedExForum for the last time, finished with 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting.

Los Angeles guard Lou Williams had 22 points and guard D'Angelo Russell finished with 22 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Forward Julius Randle posted a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Russell started the game and Bryant said that helped him.

"It's just a rhythm thing," Bryant said. "It's very hard coming off the bench to really establish the game, especially as a point guard, because you're always chasing the game."

Only shooting 33.7 percent from 3-point range coming in, Memphis knocked down 13-of-27 shots for 48.1 percent. The Lakers finished at 43.6 percent from distance, going 17-for-39.

Asked if he believed the Grizzlies were becoming a reliable 3-point shooting team, Joerger needed but one word: "No."

Memphis led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter and carried a 97-84 advantage in the fourth. The Lakers never got the lead below nine points.

Guard P.J. Hairston scored 17 points for Memphis, forward Brandan Wright had 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks off the bench, Zach Randolph chipped in 14 points with nine boards and three assists, and forward JaMychal Green also just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine assists.

Wright is recently back from knee surgery and Hairston and guard Lance Stephenson (eight points) came over in trades right before the deadline.

"I've definitely got something to prove," said Stephenson, who in his sixth season is on his fourth NBA team.

It's true for the Grizzlies as a whole, according to Conley.

"People will say we're just beating teams we're supposed to beat, but that's part of the league," he said, adding of the postseason they expect to reach again even without Gasol:

"I think we can still be a dangerous team."

NOTES: Lakers F Kobe Bryant has scored 1,616 career points against the Grizzlies after scoring 13 Wednesday in his final appearance at FedExForum. That is the most points against the Grizzlies by any player. Included in that total: an arena-record, 60-point night by Bryant in 2007 when he went 20-for-37 from the floor. ... Memphis is a much different team with C Marc Gasol lost for the season and G P.J. Hairston, F Lance Stephenson and C Chris Andersen new to the team via trades. The team mindset, according to coach Dave Joerger: "Put your arms around one another, love me for my warts and I'll love you for your warts, and let's go." ... Memphis G Tony Allen missed a second consecutive game with a sore left knee. ... The Lakers entered Wednesday's game last in the league in field-goal percentage (.414) and assists per game (18.14).

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