In olden times, city-states claimed either notoriety or respect through acts of war on other city-states. Nothing says validity more than pounding another city into dust. In modern times, the world has changed but not the desire for a singular instant of stepping forward and showing to everyone that home matters. And no one elses home comes close.
One could hear this very sentiment as the Memphis Grizzlies handed the Los Angeles Lakers a rare loss Friday night at a sold-out Pyramid, 114-108. As the final minutes rolled around the crowd did not chant for the Grizzlies to be the Lakers or even the world champions. Instead, the cheer of Beat L.A.! echoed up and down the riverfront. Call the cheer a reminder to the rest of the NBA that the Grizzlies Ð and Memphis Ð can play this game too.
The Grizzlies won the game with offense. The 114 points is the most totaled by any Lakers opponent this season. The previous holder of that distinction is the Seattle Supersonics. The win marks the second in two night for the Grizzlies, having beat the New York Knicks in New York last night, 90-88.
Man, an obviously happy Grizzlies head coach said after the game. I like that. Its hard not to get excited about something like that. Thats two games, back-to-back, when we showed heart and character. They played a perfect ballgame
Jason Williams led all Griz scorers with 26 points. Past the guards clutch heroics, including two late threes and a critical steal with only minutes left in the game, the Griz shared the scoring load in a big way, with six Grizzlies scoring in double digits. Guard Brevin Knight scored 20 points, forward Shane Battier scored 19 points, forward Stromile Swift scored 13 points, and forwards Grant Long and Pau Gasol both scored 12 points apiece.
The Lakers, as always and as expected, went to the teams big two in guard Kobe Bryant and center Shaquille ONeal. Bryant responded with a game high 36 points and ONeal responded in similar fashion with 26 points of his own. However, the Grizzlies did a good job of limiting the effectiveness of the rest of the Lakers squad, with only guard Derek Fisher scoring in double-digits with 12 points.
We were just trying to concentrate on those two guys, Lowe said. We knew they would get theirs. Our guys did a good job of staying on [forward Robert] Horry, staying on [forward Rick] Fox.
The Grizzlies did a host of little things to get the win. Despite allowing over a hundred points to the Lakers, the Grizz did play some good defense with 11 steals and three blocks. However, the defending world champs just shot that well, hitting 47.9% of their shots. The Griz instead had to respond with sizzling shooting of their own, hitting 50% from the field. The Griz also did a formidable job of taking care of the ball, allowing only four turnovers for two Lakers points, while L.A. turned the ball over 15 times for 21 Grizzlies points.
But in the end, L.A. coach Phil Jackson summed the game as well as anyone could. [The Grizzlies] certainly wanted the game more. They got things like loose balls that were important in this game.
Thats probably because the team understands that the basketball court replaces the field of battle. City pride is an essential of modern life, just as city pride was an essential in past life. Lowe understands this as well as his team. Im just glad we could give them what they wanted, he said. Thats NBA basketball at its finest.
The Grizzlies travel to Boston for a Sunday match-up against one of the Eastern Conferences hottest teams in the Boston Celtics. The Memphis squad then returns to the Pyramid on December 26, facing off against the Chicago Bulls at 7 p.m.