They couldn't have imagined being so successful.
Bryant's string of outstanding games came to an ugly end, and rookies Tarence Kinsey and Rudy Gay led the lowly Grizzlies to a shocking 88-86 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
Bryant, who had scored at least 40 points in five straight games, including 50 in the first four, shot 7 of 26 and scored only 23. He made 53.2 percent of his field goal attempts, including half of his 3-point shots in those previous five games.
"They played a box, and I haven't seen that since high school," Bryant said. "Other than that, I was able to raise up and get good looks at the basket. It just didn't go in for me."
Bryant scored 60 points to lead the Lakers past the Grizzlies 121-119 at Memphis last Thursday. He also had games of 65, 50, 50 and 43 points in his last five.
"Nobody likes to get 60 scored on them by any player," said Gay, who had 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
"Even though I'm a rookie, I'm a man," said Kinsey, who scored five of his career-high 24 points in the final minute. "It hurt my pride, it hurt everybody's pride."
Junior Harrington had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Pau Gasol added 10 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists for the Grizzlies, whose 18-54 record is the NBA's worst, as is their 6-30 road record.
Luke Walton scored 15 points, Smush Parker added 14 and Sasha Vujacic 11 for the Lakers (38-33), whose season-high five-game winning streak ended. Lamar Odom had 16 rebounds and 11 assists to go with three points.
The Lakers shot just 33 of 96 (34.4 percent) while the Grizzlies shot 37 of 84 (44 percent).
"It was one of the poorest shooting efforts we've had this season," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "At some point, I felt like the team was relying on Kobe to do all the scoring, and no one could pick it up once they kind of figured he wasn't going to make shots."
The Grizzlies won despite playing without Mike Miller, Damon Stoudamire and Chucky Atkins, who are averaging a combined 39 points. Miller and Stoudamire have patella tendinitis -- Miller in both knees, Stoudamire in his right knee -- and Atkins has a strained groin.
Starting Lakers center Kwame Brown (sprained left ankle) and backup Maurice Evans (sore right knee) sat out as well.
Bryant made his first three shots of the game, but missed 15 of his next 16 before scoring from long range with 11 minutes to play. He scored his last five points in the final 10 seconds, but that wasn't enough for the Lakers.
A 3-pointer by Walton with 1:15 remaining tied the game at 81, but Kinsey made a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left to put the Grizzlies ahead for good.
Two free throws by Kinsey with 13 seconds to play made it 86-81, but Bryant made a 3-pointer and two foul shots around a free throw by Gasol to make it a one-point game.
Hakim Warrick's foul shot with 6.5 seconds left completed the scoring. After a timeout, Parker missed a 3-pointer from the right corner that could have put Los Angeles ahead. Bryant got the rebound, but Gasol blocked his 15-footer, ending the Lakers' last hope.
"I got the chance to be there and make it happen," Gasol said of his third block of the game. "It felt good, definitely."
Bryant called Gasol a phenomenal player.
"I've followed him since he came over to the NBA and I've always been a big fan of his," Bryant said.
Harrington had seven points in the third quarter as the Grizzlies outscored Los Angeles 27-15 for a 68-63 lead. Bryant missed all six shots he attempted, being held to two free throws in the period.
Bryant scored the game's first five points and had nine of his team's first 11 in the opening 5 1/2 minutes. But he shot 1-of-9 for three points during the remainder of the first half.
The Lakers led 27-15 entering the second quarter and by as many as 15 points in the period before settling for a 49-41 halftime lead.
|No 60 this time. Kobe Bryant shoots just 7 of 26 for 23 points in the loss. (AP)|
|Memphis (18-54) «||15||26||27||20||88|
|L.A. Lakers (38-33)||27||22||14||23||86|
|MEM:T. Kinsey 24 Pts
MEM:P. Gasol 16 Reb
MEM:J. Harrington 8 Ast
|LAL:K. Bryant 23 Pts
LAL:L. Odom 16 Reb
LAL:L. Odom 11 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|J. Harrington, PG||48||6-16||0-0||8||8||5||13|
|P. Gasol, C||45||3-10||4-6||16||7||3||10|
|T. Kinsey, SG||44||10-18||2-2||7||1||2||24|
|R. Gay, SG||40||8-19||4-4||12||5||1||20|
|H. Warrick, PF||22||4-6||1-2||2||0||1||9|
|S. Swift, C||22||1-5||0-0||7||1||0||2|
|D. Jones, SG||15||4-9||0-0||0||2||2||8|
|A. Johnson, PF||4||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|D. Stoudamire, PG||Did Not Play|
|C. Atkins, PG||Did Not Play|
|B. Cardinal, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Miller, SF||Did Not Play|
|S. Padgett, PF||Did Not Play|
|L. Roberts, PF||Did Not Play|
|K. Lowry, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|K. Bryant, SG||44||7-26||6-9||5||5||0||23|
|L. Odom, SF||39||1-7||1-2||16||11||5||3|
|L. Walton, SF||32||6-12||0-0||2||2||2||15|
|S. Parker, PG||29||6-15||0-0||2||3||0||14|
|A. Bynum, C||23||2-7||0-0||7||2||1||4|
|R. Turiaf, PF||25||3-6||0-0||9||0||5||6|
|S. Vujacic, PG||17||4-9||0-0||1||2||1||11|
|S. Williams, PG||16||2-5||0-0||2||0||1||5|
|B. Cook, PF||9||2-9||0-0||3||1||2||5|
|J. Farmar, PG||5||0-0||0-0||1||2||0||0|
|A. McKie, SG||Did Not Play|
|C. Mihm, C||Did Not Play|
|K. Brown, C||Did Not Play|
|V. Radmanovic, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Evans, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|