Disclaimer: Scouting The Competition is just my opinions on two teams who played against each other in one game. I do not claim to be an expert on either team featured. Though I am familiar with both.
Disclaimer Squared: In this particular instance I was switching between the game and election coverage, so I was not able to pay full attention.
The Game: This was a classic Feinstein snoozer. The Lakers put the Grizzlies down early. By the end of the first they had already built an 11 point lead which ballooned to 27 by half time. Now the Lakers are obviously a very good team, but its not like Memphis is terrible. Fact is the LA shot the lights out in the first half and Memphis couldn't buy a bucket and when a team trails by almost 30 at half, their not coming back barring a major collapse which the Lakers simply do not do.
Steve Blake- your classic triangle point guard, good distributor, good shooter and good at improvising. He's definitely an upgrade over Farmar. In the second quarter he made a play that was just classic Steve Blake. With the shot clock winding down, Blake was unaware of how little time he had as he dirrbled around the top of the key. Quickly realizing he had 3 seconds on the clock, he dribbled right and banked a floater in from about 15ft away.
Matt Barnes- a great addition. He allows the Lakers to give Artest some rest while at the same time not losing to much on defense. Barnes is a classic hustle guy, works his but off and does dirty work. The difference between him and a guy like say Ryan Bowen is Barnes actually has athleticism and talent. A classic Barnes play also happened in the scond quarter when another Laker (I think it was Fisher) had an open breakaway and blew the layup, Banres was the one guy who didn't give up on the play and ran down the court, scooped the ball up in mid air and dunked it home.
Other thoughts on LA- They are definitely the team to beat in the west and are just as good, if not better, than last year. Lamar Odom looks to have more confidence than ever since coming back from the world championships. It also looks like he's become more comfortable with shooting three's, most likely another side effect of playing some international ball. Gasol is Gasol, Kobe is Kobe. Derrick Caracter looks to be another solid second round steal. He banged low, grabbed some boards and managed to get fouled 3 times while trying to put the ball in the net. He cashed in on all 6 free throws.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies played awful last night, well maybe not played off but their shooting was pretty atrocious. Shots just didn't fall. They also were being dominated on the glass and you can tell not having Zach Randolph hurts.
Marc Gasol- Ah the most pined for player in all of D-Stiffs. To be honest, Gasol looked awful. He looked like a classic big clumsy white guy who had no idea where he was going. If he had been black and bald I would have sworn he was Johan Petro. Routinely Gasol missed easy shots, was out of position and got dominated by his quicker brother. On one open breakaway Acie Law lightly tossed the ball to Gasol for an easy dunk but Marc managed to bobble the ball and lose it out of bounds. I still like him, but I definitely don't think he can be a force without a solid guy playing power forward (cough nene cough).
Hasheem Thabeet- Hasheem is still a project, but he's looking better, he made a couple of nice blocks. He still gets out of position often and fails to get to the glass as much as he should. On one play Thabeet grabbed an offensive board, blew a lay up right under the basket and ended up landing directly under the backboard leaving him no chance at another putback.
Rudy Gay- Gay was the only one doing anything on Memphis. He displayed his usual athleticism and ability to get to the cup, but offered a pleasant surprise. Gay actually has a decent post game as well. He routinely would back Artest down, shoulder fake right, then spin left and hit a difficult fade away right in Artests face. If he played in someplace like Chicago or Boston or New York the kid would be a star. He took on one of the best defenders in the league and flat out owned him.
Other thoughts on Memphis- They really had an awful shooting night, like someone put a screen on top of the basket. Acie Law looks like a solid addition and whats encouraging for the Nuggets is Law usually could easily blow by the Lakers pg's even though he's not that fast. His problem was he kept blowing the layup. I didn't really get to see much of the rookie Xavier Henry, but what I did see was unimpressive. Henry looks like he could be a solid role player but not much more. He'd do good to mimic a guy like Matt Barnes. Mayo had an off night like all the other Grizzlies and being that his best asset is his shooting ability, he was largely ineffective. The Grizz are young and talented and I think they'll be just fine and compete for a playoff spot.