Lakers 103, Grizzlies 95
LOS ANGELES (AP)—With the crowd booing and the Lakers trailing by 19, it seemed they might be headed to a third straight home loss for the first time in 10 years.
With a couple of spectacular plays off the glass by Kobe Bryant and two hook shots and a dunk by Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers were on their way to a big comeback and a 103-95 victory over Memphis on Friday night.
“When you are down 19 points, you can walk around with your head down and give up on your game, or you can say, `I’m going to try to start something,”’ said Bryant, who scored 33 points and ignited the rally that started midway through the second quarter.
O’Neal had 28 points and 12 rebounds. Karl Malone had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Bryant added six rebounds and seven assists.
After the Lakers fell behind 43-24 with 4 1/2 minutes gone in the second quarter, they began charging back.
Bryant scored 12 points in the final six minutes of the quarter, including a seven-point burst that brought the sellout crowd of 18,997 to its feet.
In the first of three plays in rapid succession, he drove into the lane, saw he couldn’t get off a shot, so instead bounced the ball off the glass—to himself—and laid it in.
Next he stole the ball from Stromile Swift, made a fast-break layup, was fouled by Swift and made the free throw. Kareem Rush stole the ball from Miller and passed upcourt to Gary Payton, who in turn lobbed the ball off the glass as Bryant came sailing in for a slam dunk that brought the Lakers within 47-40.
The crowd, booing moments earlier, roared its approval.
“It gave us a big boost,” Bryant said of the brief outburst. “It took a lot of energy away from them and gave us the confidence to get back in it.”
The Lakers finally caught the Grizzlies at 72 on Derek Fisher’s 20-foot jumper with 33 seconds left in the third quarter. Bryant’s two free throws gave them a 74-72 lead heading into the final quarter, and they were in front the rest of the way.
“Shaq and Kobe are a lot to handle,” Posey said. “We just wanted to come out here and keep it as close as possible so that we have a chance at the end of the game.
“We’re a little banged and bruised up right now, but hopefully by playoff time, everybody will be ready and in full stride.”
The Lakers had won 11 in a row before losing to San Antonio and Portland. They still haven’t dropped three in a row at home since moving to Staples Center to start the 1999-2000 season.
Memphis was up 31-19 at the end of the first quarter and ran off a 13-3 string to open the 19-point lead before the Lakers started their comeback.
The playoff-bound Grizzles again were without leading scorer Pau Gasol (strained right arch) and Bonzi Wells (sore back). But Jason Williams was back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for making contact andberating a referee during a loss at Utah on Monday. Williams had eight points.
Los Angeles F Rick Fox left the game in the first quarter with a dislocated right thumb and did not return. X-rays were negative. … Bryant was 14-of-15 from the free throw line. … Memphis coach Hubie Brown said he hopes Gasol and Wells will be ready to go in the Grizzlies’ final two regular-season games, Tuesday at Dallas and Wednesday at home against Minnesota. … Lakers G Rush came off the injured list earlier in the day. … The Grizzlies beat the Lakers 88-82 and 105-95 in their two meetings in Memphis this season, while theLakers took a 121-89 win in their first meeting in Los Angeles.