It is March 25, 2012 and the (30-18) Los Angeles Lakers don their Sunday white jerseys to face the (25-21) Memphis Grizzlies, an hour later than usual. The Lakers beat the Trailblazers 103-96 on 3/23/12, but an interesting take away from the game was that all five starters for the Lakers were in double digits highlighted by Ramon Sessions’ 20-point 11-assist performance in his first start.
The Lakers recorded a season-high 33-assists and out-rebounded the Blazers 53-29. Ramon Sessions’ has averaged 13.6-points and seven assists in his five games sporting a purple and gold jersey. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 games riding a two-game winning streak.
Ramon Sessions’ play has made the game easier for everyone. Sessions’ playmaking ability is allowing Kobe Bryant to play shooting guard without the added task of creating offense for others. Tonight’s matchup has presented the Laker Nation with some forgettable moments.
L. A. leads the all-time series against Memphis (46-16). The Lakers are 16-6 all-time against the Grizzles at the Staples Center, 5-1 in their last six games at home. The purple and gold are 7-3 overall in their last 10 meetings with the Grizzlies. The Lakers lead the current season series against the Grizzlies (2-0) after splitting last season’s series.
In the most recent game, the Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant & Andrew Bynum combining for 71, overcame a 17-point deficit on the road to pull out a 116-111 win in overtime. Andrew Bynum led all scorers with 37 points & 16 rebounds, his third career 30+ point game leading all scorers. However, the Grizzlies put up a tremendous fight and had six players score in double digits.
The Lakers defense is improving, but still has room for improvement. The Grizzlies are reeling; the road has not been kind, Memphis is trying to stop a three-game losing skid on their four-game west coast road trip. Memphis is 4-6 in their last 10 games. Since an 11-2 stretch, the Grizzlies have lost six of eight and have slipped in the Western Conference standings. If the NBA playoffs started today, tonight’s matchup would be between the #3-seeded Lakers with the home court advantage against the #6-seeded Grizzlies.
In 56 career games, (49 starts) Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.9 points against the Grizzlies. The matchup of the Gasol brothers is always special. In 12 games, against his former team Pau Gasol is averaging 15.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.50 blocks.
The Grizzlies are a talented young team that wants to play up-tempo basketball and run the Lakers out of the gym. The speed on speed matchup of Ramon Sessions against Mike Conley will be interesting. The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, get back in transition, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters.
The Lakers need to continue to establish Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area. Like most teams in the league, the Grizzlies do not have the size to match up with the Lakers front line. The Lakers need to attack the Grizzlies on the interior. The Lakers need to communicate of defense, keep their men in front of them and receive a huge contribution from their reserves.
It is imperative that the Lakers step up their game on defense. In the last meeting, three of the six double-digit scorers for the Grizzlies came off the bench. The Lakers have to limit the impact of Mareese Speights who looked unstoppable in his 25-point 12 rebound performance.
Lakers: R. Sessions, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Grizzlies: M. Conley, T. Allen, R. Gay, Z. Randolph, M. Gasol
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz) & ESPN
- Memphis: FS South TN (Pete Pranica & Sean Tuohy) & ESPN
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- Memphis: 103.5 FM (Eric Hasseltine & Hank McDowell)