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Grizzlies respond after trade, beat Lakers 106-93

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In the wake of a three-player trade that supposedly depleted the Memphis Grizzlies' bench, a funny thing happened Wednesday night in FedExForum.

The old Grizzlies -- the ones who played with boundless energy and fire, the ones who acted like they owned the court in the first two months of the season, the ones who hadn't been seen for a while -- showed up with a vengeance in a 106-93 victory over the Lakers.

Coach Lionel Hollins, having to juggle his bench rotation because of the loss of prime reserves Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington in the trade to the Cavs, got the performances he was seeking from players forced into new roles.

He asked for more offense from point guard Mike Conley, and Conley complied with 19 points and six assists. Forward Darrell Arthur, who replaced Speights, exploded for a season-high 20 points and nine rebounds as the Griz reached the midway point in the season at 27-14.

Jerryd Bayless, moving from his role as a backup point guard to backup shooting guard, had nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. Rookie point guard Tony Wroten, seeing the first extensive action of the season behind Conley, scored nine points and wowed the crowd with a stunning first-half dunk and a second-half rejection of a Kobe Bryant dunk that forced the future Hall of Famer to receive a technical foul.

"I think it was the best game we've played in a long time," Conley said. "Guys all took the challenge of us being down two or three players. We played like we were desperate, we played like we had nothing to lose. When we play that way, we're very good,"

Hollins was extremely pleased with the way his team pulled together after some recent offensive struggles and Tuesday's trade.

"You never know how a team is going to react," Hollins said. "We're down a man and everybody has to go in and contribute. Everybody has to be committed and ready to do their job."

Bryant finished with a game-high 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting for the Lakers (17-25). But he was largely ineffective in the last quarter and a half as Memphis rang up its highest point total since winning 113-81 at Sacramento on Jan. 7.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, whose collection of All-Star talent suffered its fourth straight loss and 10th in its last 12 games, had hoped a Wednesday morning team meeting would help his slumping team.

Apparently not.

"They (the Grizzlies) were just quicker than we were at everything, rebounds and fast breaks." D'Antoni said. "They beat us to the ball. They beat us to second-chance points. They got so many more shots at the goal than we did."

By pounding the boards for 52-34 rebound advantage, including 16 offensive that resulted in an astonishing 27-3 domination in second-chance points, the Grizzlies were able to fire up 23 more shot attempts (96-73) than the Lakers.

And without center Dwight Howard playing in the second half after re-aggravating a shoulder injury in the first half, Memphis went to town offensively, shooting a season-high 49 percent from the field.

"I thought we came out with energy," Lakers point guard Steve Nash said, "but when Dwight went down, we couldn't rebound with them. With Dwight getting injured against a big team, we just didn't play well after that. It's just another chapter in a different season."

Memphis, which had been gasping to score points in recent weeks since it hadn't cracked 90 points for the last six games, was pleasantly surprised by the play of Wroten. The 6-6 rookie from the University of Washington, who has spent most of this season bouncing back and forth between the Grizzlies and Reno of the NBA's Development League, gave the Griz a lift with his energetic play, highlighted by his dunk over Howard and Pau Gasol.

"I've waited for this opportunity," Wroten said. "It's like T.A. (teammate Tony Allen) always tells me, 'You have to stay ready so you don't have to get ready.' After seeing the trade (on Tuesday), I knew I'd get my opportunity."

NOTES: The Grizzlies, with one game left against the Lakers this year, are 2-0 against Los Angeles and have clinched the season series over the Lakers for the first time since 2005-06. ... Memphis is 12-0 this season when scoring 100 or more points. ... Griz forward Zach Randolph recorded his NBA-leading 27th double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds).
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