LOS ANGELES (AP)—Two was the limit, Kobe Bryant decided.
The Lakers halted their mini-slump at two losses in a row with a front-running 99-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, allowing Los Angeles to avoid its first three-game skid of the season.
“The focus was just about coming out and playing the right way and winning the game. You don’t want to compound mistakes or add to losses—two was enough,” said Bryant, who scored 31 points and sat out the fourth quarter while mostly reserves finished up.
Memphis, 3-24 on the road, kept it relatively close until the Lakers pulled away from a 54-51 lead early in the third quarter. They were up 78-67 by the end of the period and remained comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter.
Lamar Odom was only 1-of-8 from the floor and scored just two points for Los Angeles, but posted some other impressive numbers: 13 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks.
Bryant said that just illustrates Odom’s versatility.
“That’s what he does well for us and that’s what we need from him. He does a lot of the intangibles, and some of the stuff he does doesn’t even show up in the box score,” Bryant said. “He’s been playing extremely well.”
Marc Gasol, four years younger than the 28-year-old Pau, outdid his brother, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for Memphis.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson noticed Pau has some difficulty against his sibling.
“Yes, he does. It’s good,” Jackson said with a smile. “Good for Pau. Good for Marc, too.”
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins mentioned the Grizzlies’ lack of fast breaks and offensive rebounds, but praised their effort and Marc Gasol’s performance in particular.
“Marc came to battle. He had a sibling rival and he met the challenge. He battled Pau, beat him up a little bit,” Hollins said. “But the Lakers won the game.”
Even so, Hollins seemed proud, saying, “This (the Lakers) is one of the three best teams in the NBA. For us to come in here and be only down five at halftime and be in the game down the stretch … it would have taken a miracle. We would have had to play a perfect game to win.”
Rookie O.J. Mayo, playing the Lakers in Los Angeles for the first time after leaving USC at the end of his freshman season, added 17 points for the Grizzlies.
Los Angeles was up by 15 early in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies chipped away and closed to within 52-47 on Marc Gasol’s two free throws after his brother fouled him 4 seconds before halftime.
Bryant had 19 points by halftime, but was the lone Laker in double figures. Marc Gasol had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists for Memphis by the break.
With the Lakers trailing 17-16 with five minutes left in the first quarter, Bryant pulled up and made an 11-footer, fed Pau Gasol for a dunk, hit a 16-footer, then added a 3. That ignited Los Angeles, and the Lakers went on to finish a 16-2 string that put them up 32-19 at the end of the period.
The Grizzlies are 1-21 this season in games when they’ve failed to score at last 20 points in the first quarter.
Los Angeles was coming off a 118-111 loss at Phoenix that followed a 90-79 defeat at Denver. … The Lakers last lost three straight Jan. 23-27 of last year. … The Grizzlies announced that C Chris Mihm underwent surgery on his right ankle, with no timetable for his return. Memphis acquired him from the Lakers on Feb. 18, and he yet to play a game for the Grizzlies.