Wow, what an evening of fun and excitement in FedEx Forum on Monday night. Last night was the largest crowd I remember seeing all season. There was a definite buzz in the air with several different points of interest last night. First, you had the excitement of Kobe and the Lakers in town. Second, you had the return of Pau Gasol back in the bluff city for the first time since his trade to the Lakers last season. Third, and of most interest to myself, was the matchup of Pau versus his brother Marc. It was noticed that there was a much larger contingent of press on press row of which many were of Spanish media.
The Grizzlies organization should be commended for putting on a good show last night. During a timeout in the 1’st quarter, they had prepared a nice tribute video in appreciation of Gasol’s contribution to the team. I noticed that Pau and his teammates and some Lakers staff watched the video when played. They also had the famous Radio City Rockettes for a half time show that was very enjoyable.
I was glad to see that the lackluster performance from Friday night’s game against the Bobcats had been put into the past and the young and hungry Grizzlies were back in uniform tonight. The Grizzlies came out in the first quarter and showed that there are not intimidated by the Lakers. They were able to match them blow for blow and finished the quarter with a 25-25 tie. It was good to see that they were not getting off to the slow start that has been happening of late.
The second quarter continued with the grizzlies going on a couple of runs to build some decent leads. One thing I noticed though, the Lakers always withstood the runs to never allow us to build a double digit lead. They always kept us within reach. We would build a lead up to 6 or 8 points and they would answer and bring it back to 2 or 3 points. We were able to finish the quarter strong and build an 8 point lead at half.
Now the question was, will we have another good third quarter or will we revert to the way we played at the beginning of the year and lose the third quarter. The Grizzlies came out strong in the third and played well and tried to keep pace with the Lakers. We ended up losing the quarter by 5 but was able to enter the fourth with a 3 point lead. At this point, the place was rocking with excitement. Grizzlies fans were holding the breath that Kobe wouldn’t go off and kill us again. All the Lakers fans, and yes there was a large number of them there, were trying to cheer their team on to victory.
The fourth quarter started off great as we were maintaining the lead and actually built it up to a 6 point lead with 4 minutes to go. That is when Kobe and the Lakers decided they would play their A game. There were several exciting plays made by both teams. O.J. drilled a clutch three pointer only to have Kobe answer with a three of his own with 1 on the shot clock. With the game tied at 96, the Lakers ended the game on a 9 point run. We turned the ball over several times and showed that we are still a young team that is trying to learn how to close out a game against the top teams in the league.
The motto for this year has been Young and Hungry. Yes, tonight, we came out Hungry all game, but in the end showed we are still YOUNG. In tonight’s game, you can see hope for the future.