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Five things to take away from Lakers' 124-105 victory over Memphis Grizzlies

Pau 1. Pau Gasol wins the match-up with his brother, Marc: The two remain close, but there are plenty of signs that indicate how competitive the match-up has become. Leading into the Lakers' 124-105 victory Tuesday over the Memphis Grizzlies, it was Coach Phil Jackson that proved the main instigator behind it all. He frequently has joked to Pau that the Lakers were on the raw end of the deal when they acquired him from Memphis in February 2008 for Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, Javaris Crittenton, two first-round picks and the rights to Marc, whom the Lakers drafted with a second-round pick in 2007. Jackson even predicted before Tuesday's game that Marc "would beat the ... out of" Pau even though Pau just earned Western Conference player of the week honors for the seventh time in his 10-year career and has averaged a team-leading 25.3 points on 52.5% shooting and 10.3 rebounds in 38.3 minutes per contest. Pau had the last laugh, scoring 21 points on nine-of-16 shooting with 13 rebounds, while Marc scored 11 points on three-for-eight shooting with eight boards.

Pau didn't waste any time, drawing an offensive foul on Marc and then throwing down an alley-oop from Lamar Odom. On one play, Pau appeared in triple-threat position, drove right and then used his shoulder to create separation over Marc. On another play, Pau drove baseline and performed a wrap-around dunk over Marc.

The trash-talking didn't stop, though.

Marc conceded Pau's superiority, but insisted he's still stronger than his brother. That led Pau to challenge him to a weightlifting contest. The back-and-forth exchanges don't reveal any tension between Jackson and Pau, as it speaks to Jackson's wanting to needle Pau anyway possible to show his affection for him and to push him. There's no contentiousness between Pau and Marc either, as the two enjoyed sushi Monday night and talk frequently each week.

Still, there's nothing like a sibling rivalry.

572809742. Lamar Odom helps all over the place: Forgive me if you've heard this one before, but it's impossible not to mention it. Countless times through the preseason and the four regular-season games thus far, the Lakers have seen Odom dominate the post and glass, fire outside shots and set up teammates through outlet passes, timely screens and leadership presence. But it's still a marvel to see.

That's why it's fitting that his stat line of 17 points on six-of-seven shooting, eight rebounds and six assists made him the 29th NBA player to reach 11,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists. His swing pass to Derek Fisher resulted in an easy three-pointer. His pick for Shannon Brown resulted in an up-and-under. Odom picked up a loose ball, fired an outlet pass to Brown, who drove in for a right-handed layup, and Theo Ratliff converted on the putback. And Odom hit numerous jumpers on the block to keep the defense honest.

Most important, however, was that part of Odom's 34 minutes came with the Lakers' second unit in Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Brown and Ratliff. The Killer B's (Blake, Barnes and Brown) have consistently meshed well among the starters, but the entire reserve unit still makes mistakes. That's why Odom's presence helped so much in minimizing those errors and making his teammates comfortable playing with him. These kinds of opportunities will pay off once Andrew Bynum returns around Thanksgiving, when Odom will assume the bench role.

3. Kobe Bryant makes O.J. Mayo look ridiculous: Bryant's knee obviously continues to get better, and there was no better way to take another step than go through what amounted to a practice-shooting session. Mayo appeared incredibly intimidated on defense, and Bryant took full advantage by scoring 21 points on seven-of-13 shooting. He showed effective elevation when he pulled back for jumpers. He showed his quickness when on an isolation play, resulting in an open shot. And he punished the Memphis zone defense with a pair of consecutive three-pointers. A little head-scratching that Tony Allen wasn't assigned to Bryant, considering his success against him with Boston in the 2010 NBA Finals. But Bryant took full advantage. 

4. Ron Artest struggles against defending Rudy Gay: Even if Artest insists that team defense has the most importance, he takes pride in shutting down scorers. In this case, Jackson remarked that Artest struggled while defending Gay last season because his bulk prevented him from matching Gay's quickness. Despite entering training camp weighing 250 pounds and having increased mobility, Artest didn't exactly give Gay fits. Gay scored 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including a three of three from three-point range.

To be fair, Artest didn't guard him all the time, often switching so the Lakers had help inside. But for all the shots that featured Artest not allowing Gay to breathe, there were plenty of sequences in which Artest couldn't keep up with Gay's quickness, resulting in open shots that Gay converted.

5. Phil Jackson still wants more: Jackson entered the news conference room with a tone suggesting that the Lakers lost. He sternly joked that the Lakers spent the second half watching the election coverage, lamented the 19 turnovers and the fact that Memphis outscored them 30-24 in the third quarter. Gasol wished he didn't have to return with 5:24 remaining in the game. And the bench stressed the need to improve, despite featuring some signs of progress, such as Barnes overcoming his six-for-16 shooting with 14 rebounds and effective cuts in the lane, and Ebanks slamming home an alley-oop lob from Blake.

The Lakers have mostly played with the professionalism, effort and pacing needed to get through a long season. But it is four games, after all. Jackson's displeasure at the blown lead, his limited praise for Gasol's performance and no mention at all about Odom clearly shows his expectation that the Lakers must not try to mail in performances when it becomes more tempting to do so during the NBA dog days.

Quote of the Night: "We had two people at every position that were quality players. Except Salley for Shaq." -- Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on the depth of the 1999-2000 team.

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Upper photo: Memphis center Marc Gasol, front, tries to pass as his older brother, Lakers center Pau Gasol, defends during the Lakers' 124-105 victory Tuesday at Staples Center. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Lower photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom tries to beat Memphis guard Mike Conley to a loose ball during the second half. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Reuters

 
Comments () | Archives (12)

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MM - thanks for insight, particularly bullet points #3 and %5. Kobe certainly enjoys competing against OJ...I think because he respects his potential. When Mayo goes back hard at Kobe its an interesting matchup. Tonight wasn't the case. The jury is still out for me on just how driven OJ is. Sometimes I think he could be one of those guys who drop 45pts on Kobe when KB is on his last leg. Other times I just don't see the desire.

Good to see PJ demanding/expecting more. Any comments from coach Hollins?

Artest's struggle with guarding leaner and quicker opponents is another reason to cultivate more playing time for the Ariza-like Ebanks. It would be great to be able -- with confidence -- to plug in Ebanks when Ron and/or Barnes aren't getting the job done.

Good win but some flaws need to be fixed. Compared to Celtics and Heat help side defense is poor. Lakers need to do a better job blocking out on defensive rebounds. Making 3 T/Os in a row against passing lane pressure is unacceptable. If Memphis was able to create havoc with the Renegades imagine the havoc Celtics and Heat would create. PJ surely emphasizes automatic triangle options to handle passing lane pressure. The Lakers need to stop the bad habit of playing well for 3 Qs regardless of the score. PG,LO, KB, SB,SB & MB are doing great. RA needs to regain his offense! Sasha & Ebanks could use some 8-10 min. games.

Am I the only one that would love to get Marc back somehow? He deserves to wear the PnG

Am I the only one that would love to get Marc back somehow? He deserves to wear the PnG

Posted by: Tim-4-Show | November 03, 2010 at 06:27 AM

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No you're not. I was thinking the same thing too. It would be great to have Marc back as Andrew's backup. I like Theo's game but he's getting up there in age and offensively limited. When is Marc available for free agency?

I saw only the first half of last night's game before going to bed. I'm on the east coast and these Laker home games go well past midnight. Seems I caught the better half of the game, though. But I gotta say, when the Lakers offense was pumping on all cylinders what a joy to watch. I'm not surprised by our starters, we all know how good they are. But what a treat to see the reserves coming in and making their shots.

Their defense though still needs work. You'd see a sea of gold under the basket and yet, Memphis comes away with the rebound - wth???! I love to see Lakers score big, but I prefer to see them limit the defense to well under 100. Our Laker fans deserve their tacos.

I am surprised and impressed by Barnes rebounding. That will benefit them as much or more then his scoring. If Odom keeps playing like this(a big if) , this team is going to be hard to stop.

>>>When is Marc available for free agency?

Next summer, and he's an unrestricted free agent.

But unless he's willing to sign for the MLE, the Lakers can't get him. And with the size of contracts going to Bynum & Bogut, I'll wager someone pays him more like 10 million a year.

Can you all imagine when Bynum is back? I truly hope that he focuses his game more on rebounding and defense than scoring. We have more than enough scoring. If he gives us 10ppg, 10rpg, 2bpg and a few changed shots throughout each game, I would be happy with that. Kobe and Gasol can do most of the scoring and we've seen how everyone else can score. Its going to be quiet an interesting season and I wouldn't want Phil's job right now. How do you figure out how to play these guys together and how to get them all enough playing time. Tough job!

I'm eagerly looking forward to Bynum's return as there are so many questions to answer. The way Odom and Gasol play together, I find it hard to break that tandem up. I only hope Bynum and Gasol can mesh as well. All this talk about Odom coming off the bench, why not try Bynum in that roll? - at least until he gets in basketball shape. Just a thought.

four games in and the lakers look like a fine oiled machine! L.O. starting and playing unbelievably, makes me wonder if it would be better for 'drew to come off the bench? any thoughts on that? also, kobe appears to have all of his quickness back, just don;t ask him if he's a 100%! ha ha. i liked the way he was covering mayo last night. the most impressive thing about this so early in the season, IS the confidence they exude on the court. they act like they can't be beat.....attitude goes a long way in the nba!

Unfortunately the regular season is a tuneup for the playoffs. Every year we hear the same things from PJ after each game, no matter how perfectly played.
Too many: turnovers, lack of offensive rebounding, or poor execution of the triangle. He has to say something..right? He is after all the coach. But 3 years in a row the Lakers have made it to the finals and won 2 titles and this year's team is the best yet. Can't play perfect basketball for 4 quarters for 82 games. No team can. But don't tell Phil.


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