Kobe Slips As Lakers Fall to Grizzlies

Wednesday, March 28th 2007, 7:52 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Kobe Bryant followed up five sensational games with one of his worst performances in recent memory. Bryant, who scored at least 40 points in the Los Angeles Lakers' previous five games, including at least 50 in the first four, had only 23 Tuesday night in an embarrassing 88-86 loss to the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies.

Bryant shot 53.2 percent from the floor in averaging 53.6 points in those five games. He made his first three shots, but only four of his last 23 to finish 7-of-26 against the Grizzlies.

``They played a box, and I haven't seen that since high school,'' Bryant said. ``Other than that, I was able to raise up and get good looks at the basket. It just didn't go in for me.

``It was one of those games were we couldn't get our rhythm. Everybody has games like that, and we had one tonight. I think we did a pretty good job against the zone, but we just didn't make shots and we didn't complete at the basket.''

Bryant scored 60 points to lead the Lakers past the Grizzlies 121-119 at Memphis last Thursday. He also had games of 65, 50, 50 and 43 points in his last five.

``We didn't want him to score 60 on us again,'' said Junior Harrington, who had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. ``We wanted to make other guys beat us, hit shots.''

Rookie Tarence Kinsey scored five of his career-high 24 points in the final minute, and fellow rookie Rudy Gay had 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

``We came in with the attitude that we can win the game,'' Memphis coach Tony Barone said. ``We don't like to play zone, but I think that was the smart thing for us to do tonight, and it worked.

``We didn't limit Kobe. What happens is Kobe limits his points depending on the number of shots he takes and we didn't do anything special. You've got to try to make him take tough shots, and I thought we did that.''

In other games, it was: Cleveland 105, Indiana 94; Dallas 105, New Orleans 89; and Seattle 114, Minnesota 106.

Luke Walton scored 15 points, Smush Parker added 14 and Sasha Vujacic 11 for the Lakers (38-33), whose season-high five-game winning streak ended. Lamar Odom had 16 rebounds and 11 assists to go with three points.

Pau Gasol added 10 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for the Grizzlies, whose 18-54 overall record is the NBA's worst, as is their 6-30 road mark.

A 3-pointer by Walton with 1:15 remaining tied the game at 81, but Kinsey made a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left to put the Grizzlies ahead for good.

Two free throws by Kinsey with 13 seconds to play made it 86-81, but Bryant made a 3-pointer and two foul shots around a free throw by Gasol to make it a one-point game.

Hakim Warrick's foul shot with 6.5 seconds left completed the scoring. After a timeout, Parker missed a 3 from the right corner that could have put Los Angeles ahead. Bryant got the rebound, but Gasol blocked his 15-footer, ending the Lakers' last hope.

``I got the chance to be there and make it happen,'' Gasol said. ``It felt good, definitely.''

The Lakers shot just 33-of-96 (34.4 percent) while the Grizzlies shot 37-of-84 (44 percent).

``It was one of the poorest shooting efforts we've had this season,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ``At some point, I felt like the team was relying on Kobe to do all the scoring, and no one could pick it up once they kind of figured he wasn't going to make shots.''

The Grizzlies won despite playing without Mike Miller, Damon Stoudamire and Chucky Atkins, who are averaging a combined 39 points. Miller and Stoudamire have patella tendinitis _ Miller in both knees, Stoudamire in his right knee _ and Atkins has a strained groin.

Starting Lakers center Kwame Brown (sprained left ankle) and backup Maurice Evans (sore right knee) sat out as well.

Bryant scored the game's first five points and had nine of his team's first 11 in the opening 5 1/2 minutes. But he had only three points during the remainder of the first half, which ended with the Lakers on top 49-41.

Bryant scored only two points in the third quarter, when the Grizzlies outscored the Lakers 27-14 to take a 68-63 lead.

Cavaliers 105, Pacers 94

LeBron James had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and visiting Cleveland clinched a playoff berth.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 23 points for the Cavaliers, who shot 52 percent from the field and pulled within 2 1/2 games of Detroit in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 32 points for Indiana, which has lost two straight home games and 15 of 17 overall.

Mavericks 105, Hornets 89

At Oklahoma City, Josh Howard had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Dallas beat the Hornets for the 21st straight time.

The Hornets haven't beaten Dallas since the turn of the century, the longest losing streak for one team against an opponent in the NBA, NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball. The Mavericks' last loss in the series came on Nov. 17, 1999, in Charlotte.

Devin Harris added 14 points for Dallas, which completed a perfect six-game road trip and won its seventh straight overall.

SuperSonics 114, Timberwolves 106

Rashard Lewis scored 21 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, Earl Watson set a career high with 24 points, and visiting Seattle overcame a 25-point second-half deficit by closing the game on a 25-2 run.

Minnesota had the largest blown lead in team history despite 20 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists from Kevin Garnett.