Civil war is an easy win for Lakers
Not that Pau Gasol needed a spark or reason to be motivated, but Coach Phil Jackson certainly provided one.
The Lakers dominated the Memphis Grizzlies, 124-105, their fiery first half overriding a somewhat sluggish second half Tuesday at Staples Center, with an undercard that also firmly went the Lakers’ way.
Gasol outplayed his younger brother, Marc, scoring 21 points and taking 13 rebounds a day after Jackson zinged him for not being as physical as his beefier sibling.
Gasol had nine points and six rebounds in the first quarter alone, the beginning of a night where he added plenty of noteworthy plays against his brother. There was a 15-foot fadeaway as the shot clock expired in the second quarter, a reverse dunk after blowing past the younger Gasol in the third quarter, and, of course, the final blow — the scoreboard.
“Nice,” Jackson said Tuesday. “He was very good.”
Gasol vs. Gasol turned out to be as one-sided as Lakers vs. Grizzlies. Marc had only 11 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.
The Grizzlies (2-2) have been surprisingly strong against the Lakers, especially at Staples Center, where they have managed to sneak in five victories since 2004.
They never stood a chance Tuesday.
The Lakers (4-0) led after the first quarter, 34-23, and at halftime, 73-46. It was their highest-scoring half since lighting up the Clippers for 73 in the second half of a 126-86 victory last January.
The only degree of intrigue was whether Kobe Bryant would end up setting a franchise record for career minutes. He needed 27 but played only 26, leaving him a minute behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 37,492 with the Lakers.
Bryant was effective with his time, scoring 23 points on seven-for-13 shooting, including three of five from three-point range. Lamar Odom had another well-rounded game, with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
But the story was Gasol’s surge a day after Jackson ribbed the three-time All-Star by saying, “A lot of times we say we traded the wrong guy and tell him that Marc is a tougher, more powerful player than he is.”
The Lakers acquired Pau in February 2008 from Memphis for three players, two first-round picks and the rights to Marc, whom the Lakers drafted with a second-round pick in 2007.
“It’s always more of a fun game for me to go against my former team and also my brother,” Pau Gasol said.
Gasol seemed surprised, if not mildly irritated, that he was told to reenter the game with 5:24 to play and the Lakers ahead, 112-93.
“Ask Phil,” he said. “I didn’t put myself back in there. I’m a professional player and I follow the orders of my coach.”
Jackson was not available for further comment.
Rudy Gay (30 points) and Mike Conley (16 points, eight assists) were the only sources of offense for Memphis, which played without power forward Zach Randolph (bruised back). Former USC star O.J. Mayo had a rough night, scoring eight points on three-for-11 shooting for the Grizzlies.
The highlight of the fourth quarter was an alley-oop dunk by Devin Ebanks off Steve Blake’s feed, a play that delighted the Staples Center crowd and, at the end of the Lakers’ bench, Bryant.
The Lakers again received plenty of support from their reserves. Matt Barnes had 16 points, Shannon Brown had 13 and Blake had 10.
Jackson wasn’t overly enthralled by a second half in which the Lakers were outscored, 59-51.
“I think they were watching the election results in the second half,” Jackson said, frowning upon the Lakers’ 14 turnovers after halftime.
It was a minor criticism on an otherwise critique-free evening.