MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Stop the pressure.
The Lakers finally won with ease in Memphis.
It seemed like a lifetime ago they did such a thing, but they were surely the better team Tuesday, throttling the Grizzlies, 117-101, at FedExForum.
The Lakers led by as many as 26 in the second quarter and threw it into cruise control from there, winning for the 13th time in 16 games and setting up an intriguing litmus test tonight in New Orleans.
That they won at all in Memphis, home of the NBA's worst record last season, was cause for celebration after going 2-6 here the last four seasons.
Derek Fisher led the way with a season-high 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting, Lamar Odom had an all-around effort with 10 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, and the Lakers moved to 8-0 when all five starters score in double figures.
The Lakers are now winning easily against substandard teams, a prickly spot for them last season but not on "Elvis Night" at FedExForum. In fact, the Lakers left the building with their third consecutive victory, all against under-.500 teams.
Coach Phil Jackson was concerned enough beforehand to deflect a question about the Lakers' recent success against poor teams.
"I'm kind of reserving my optimism until [later]," he said. "We've really not played well here since they've opened this building."
They played fine Tuesday. In fact, they never trailed.
"I'm not that optimistic," Jackson said wryly after the game before getting serious. "It's good. We still have a couple more teams to go this week."
Unlike their victory Sunday over Indiana, the Lakers didn't cough up most of their lead in the fourth quarter. Every time the Grizzlies (10-24) made a mini-run, the Lakers countered with one of their own.
"That's really a key," said Kobe Bryant, who had 25 points on eight-for-22 shooting. "When you have a good lead, especially early in the ballgame, it's always tough to sustain it 36 minutes."
Bryant and Odom were the only starters who played in the fourth quarter.
Fisher made all five of his three-point attempts and finished three points short of his career high. Bryant said afterward that Fisher should not have been credited with his only miss.
"That was a lob to Andrew [Bynum]," Bryant said. "That wasn't a shot. He was really 10 for 10."
Fisher didn't seem too perturbed.
"There's no way you plan on shooting the basketball the way I did tonight," he said. "I think it just kind of happens for you."
The Lakers (22-11) will get a better gauge of their present-day place in the Western Conference food chain tonight at New Orleans. The Hornets (23-11) are one of the biggest surprises in the league, thanks to a blend of size (Tyson Chandler, David West), speed (Chris Paul) and shooting touch (Peja Stojakovic).
In the Hornets' 118-104 victory Nov. 6 at Staples Center, Paul had 21 assists, the most against the Lakers since John Stockton burned them for 23 in April 1990. Stojakovic was also a handful that night, scoring 36 points and setting a new Lakers' opponent record by making 10 three-pointers.
Odom and Kwame Brown sat out that game while recovering from off-season surgeries. Still, the Lakers remember it vividly.
"Their three-point shooters had a feast out there," Jackson said. "Stojakovic had a terrific three-point shooting night."
Fisher was the one feasting against the Grizzles, scoring 13 points in the first quarter as the Lakers took a 39-23 lead. They took a 57-31 lead on his three-pointer with 4:25 left in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies closed to within 61-47 by halftime.
Still, the Lakers never led by fewer than 12 the rest of the way.
They have led four games wire to wire since Dec. 16, beating the Clippers, New York, Philadelphia and Memphis without trailing.
"They outclassed us in most areas, and we started playing one-on-one basketball," Grizzlies Coach Marc Iavaroni said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun