LOS ANGELES (AP) — Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ latest win, Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson gave slightly different assessments of the All-Star guard’s surgically repaired knee.
While Bryant may or may not be 100 percent healthy, his recent efforts against the Memphis Grizzlies have been decidedly robust.
Bryant will try to help the Lakers improve to 4-0 by leading them to their fourth straight home win over the Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
When asked about his knee following Sunday’s 107-83 victory over Golden State, Bryant jokingly answered with multiple expletives and insisted that he was 100 percent.
In response, Jackson told the team’s website, “He’s not 100 percent, but that’s good of him to say it.”
Whether his knee is fully healthy or not, it hasn’t seemed to affect Bryant on the court as he’s averaging 24 points during the team’s 3-0 start.
The Lakers have been one of the league’s best scoring clubs with 111 points per game, and former Grizzlies star Pau Gasol has led the way with a team-best 25.3 per contest. They remain one of three unbeaten teams in the NBA along with Atlanta and New Orleans.
Los Angeles has also seemed to benefit from a retooled bench that includes new faces Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff. The Lakers could get some more help with Luke Walton expected to return soon from a strained hamstring.
“This year, I think we have better chemistry, in terms of the pieces fitting better together coming off the bench,” Jackson said. “I knew as soon as we signed those free agents that we would be better, just because you know what they bring.”
While Gasol has averaged 16 points in six all-time matchups with his former club, Bryant has averaged 35.3 in his last 12 games against the Grizzlies (2-1) and 39.0 on 62.3 percent shooting in last season’s three matchups.
His 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds to go gave the Lakers a 99-98 victory in the teams’ previous matchup Feb. 23 in Memphis. The Lakers have won 42 of the 56 all-time meetings with the Grizzlies and 23 of 28 at home.
This time, they’ll meet a Grizzlies team that’s won consecutive games following a 15-point loss to Atlanta in its season opener.
Memphis had a franchise-record 22 steals in a 109-89 rout of Minnesota on Saturday night. Mike Conley collected seven of those to tie his own franchise record.
“I think it’s effort,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “It’s getting back to what we do. … We had 32 deflections and nine times we had three stops in a row. We had some consistency with our effort.”
The Grizzlies’ previous 3-1 start was in 2005-06, a season that ended with the franchise’s most recent playoff appearance.
Memphis is hoping to see Zach Randolph return from a bruised lower back as it begins a four-game, five-night Western road trip. However, the status of Randolph, who has six consecutive double-doubles against the Lakers, is unknown for Tuesday’s game.
Randolph was second on the Grizzlies last season in averaging 21 points in three matchups with the Lakers. Rudy Gay, who averaged 21.3, leads Memphis in scoring this season with 22.3 per game.
Updated November 2, 2010
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