Sunday, January 13, 2008

Post Game Thoughts- LA Lakers

It is times like this that it is difficult to be an NBA fan. The team fights hard from a hole to pull even and even take a lead in the last minutes and the refs basically decided the game with a phantom call and a no call both going against the Grizzlies. I don't want to say that the refs are crooked but this one smells a lot like a job by the refs. I sure hope the league takes a hard look at funny betting lines in the game.

Pau Gasol played big all night and deserves a special note. Following up a 43 pt night in a tough fought loss in Golden St, Gasol had a career high in rebounds, 18, against the Lakers. Gasol also showed the team some leadership by not trying to force action himself but constantly looking for players with better shots while still scoring 21 pts on 10-16 shooting. His 8 assists led the team in that catagory as well. Throw in 4 blocks to make it another tremendous effort by Gasol. I just wish he'd call out the team more often if this is how he is going to respond.

Speaking of calling people out, I was one of the people suggesting Memphis play Damon and sit Kyle for a while so he could get his legs back. I am now suggesting we sit Rudy. I sure hope the results are the same because since those comments Kyle has returned to the way he played when he was a fan favorite. 7 pts, 6 assists, 2 huge offensive boards and two steals is the type of energy play we need from Kyle.

Rudy suffered another bad game and was the victim of the phantom foul call to actually foul out for the first time since Dec. 22 and the fourth time this season. Throw in 6 additional games were he was called for five fouls and this is obviously an area Rudy will need to work on this summer (as well as his dribbling skills). Despite the bad overall game Rudy did hit the late 3 pt shot that pulled the Grizzlies even with the Lakers. Regardless of the weaknesses it is obvious that Rudy is our big shot player for the next few years.

Miller torched the nets in the first quarter and didn't disappear in the fourth (as has been the case often this season) to lead the team in scoring tonight. So in the three game road trip Memphis was led in scoring by three different players. The RPM's (Rudy, Pau, Mike) are starting to flourish in Iavaroni's system. With Conley and Lowry's play improving things are getting fun in Grizz Town despite the record.

Juan Carlos Navarro made some huge shots but his biggest shots were two missed free throws. The refs made horrible calls down the stretch but you can't blame them for missed free throws. Twice on the road trip missed free throws cost Memphis wins. That is something the team needs to work on. Despite Memphis matching the Lakers for intensity and forcing action the free throw calls never came. LA shot 28 free throws to Memphis' 11. There is no way LA was more than twice as aggressive going to the lane.

Defense was an issue in the first half as was the benches performance but the defense and bench played well in the second half holding LA to 39 second half points and the bench scored 22 pts in the game. LA has one of the most productive benches but managed to only score 26 pts.

Memphis should be encouraged by the road trip. Sacramento, Golden St and LA in four days will test any teams mettle and Memphis' performance was admirable. The team never quit in any game and the scores reflected how hard they made some hot teams play to get the win.

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