New York: The road troubles for the Los Angeles Lakers continued as they were beaten 106-98 by the Grizzlies in Memphis on Friday.
The Lakers dropped to 0-4 on the road and 6-7 on the season as the Grizzlies (9-2) continued their early season impressive form.
The Grizzlies, who are the top team in the Western Conference, were ruthless early and led 34-18 at the end of the first quarter then refused to be run down, producing a team effort where all five starters scored double figure points.
Rudy Gay top-scored for Memphis with 21 points while Zach Randolph added 17 and 12 rebounds for his 11th successive double-double while Mike Conley (19 points), Marc Gasol (14) and Tony Allen (12) also contributed to the victory.
Kobe Bryant scored a game high 30 points and Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison added 16 each for the Lakers, who battled to be as close as six behind in the final quarter but could not complete the fightback.
“They got a lot of points in the paint and we didn’t battle hard enough in stretches,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said.
D’Antoni is trying to implement a faster, more high-powered offence since taking over from the fired Mike Brown but is facing a few early teething problems.
“We need to be in a little bit better shape, were going to start running more,” he said.
“I thought the rhythm was a little bit better today and guys have got to get used to this pace.
“It might take a little bit but were going to run up and down and if you cant run up and down and play quickly then we might have to find guys that will.
D’Antoni left Pau Gasol on the bench for the final quarter, leaving the Spaniard with just six points for the Lakers, well behind the performance of his younger brother on the other end of the court.
Fellow big man Dwight Howard only added seven points as they seemingly struggled to get enough touches in the D’Antoni style.
The coach did not hold back in his assessment, particularly of Gasol’s performance, suggesting the four-time All-Star might need better conditioning.
“I thought Pau was off a little bit on his shot which didn’t open things up. They need more thrust, more energy,” D’Antoni said.
“It [Gasol’s conditioning] could be questionable, you’ll have to ask him, but he’ll be rested for tomorrow that’s for sure.”
When asked why he left Gasol out of the final minutes when the Lakers were making a run D’Antoni was blunt.
“I was thinking I’d like to win the game, that’s the reason.”