Preview: Lakers (11-13) @ Grizzlies (10-13)

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

December 17, 2013 — 5:00 PM (PST)
FedEx Arena, Memphis, TN
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

After a very ugly and disappointing loss vs. Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers (11-13) look to finish out their 4-game road trip on a positive note vs. Memphis Grizzlies (10-13). The Lakers’ defense completely collapsed vs. Hawks in the 2nd half, allowing 67 points, allowing multiple 2nd chance opportunities, and countless amounts of uncontested shots.

Kobe Bryant still shows rust with his left foot stemming from his achilles surgery, only scoring 8 points, 6 assists, and allowing 5 turnovers, although 4 of them came in the 1st quarter. The absence of the 3 point guards, PG Steve Nash, PG Steve Blake, and PG Jordan Farmar, showed the most last night. The Lakers offense became stagnant, taking highly contested low percentage shots and throwing low percentage passes which led to turnovers. G Nick Young was one of a very few Laker who shot the ball well, leading the Lakers with 23 points, while F Jordan Hill almost had another double-double with 21 points and 9 rebounds.

The Lakers now have to play the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been a disappointment so far after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season. Making things matter worse for the Grizzlies, 2 of their top 3 players will not play tonight. C Marc Gasol, brother of Pau Gasol, is still recovering from a sprained MCL, and PG Mike Conley, arguably the most underrated and improved point guard in the NBA, has now been officially ruled out due to a thigh bruise, according to the Grizzlies PR. Therefore, the Grizzlies tonight will rely heavily on PF Zack Randolph. Randolph, who both averages 16.0 PPG and 7.0 RPG, brings a very old school low-post game. Although he has trouble with verticality, he will back defenders down with his tremendous strength to score easily.

Projected Starters

PG - Jerryd Bayless Kobe Bryant [Advantage: Lakers]

SG - Tony Allen / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Grizzlies]

SF - Tayshaun Prince Wesley Johnson [Advantage: Even]

PF - Zach Randolph / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Grizzlies]

C - Kosta Koufos Pau Gasol [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Grizzlies: G Nick Calathes, Mike MillerJon Leuer

Lakers: G Xavier Henry, G/F Nick YoungF Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Keys for Lakers Success

  1. Defensive Rebounding: Not only did the Lakers defense give up a lot of wide open shots to the Hawks, but also allowed 15 offensive rebounds, many of which came in the 2nd half collapse. Since the Lakers defense has struggled significantly outside of their win vs. Bobcats, the Lakers cannot allow the Grizzlies to take more shots from extra possessions. Koufos and Randolph have 2.4 offensive RPG and 2.3 offensive RPG, so anybody near them have to make sure to box these two players out by using proper fundamentals since they both possess a significant weight advantage over any players on the Lakers.
  2. Pau Gasol: I know I sound like a broken record, but C Pau Gasol absolutely has to have a huge night vs. the Grizzlies. C Kosta Koufos, who does not possess great defensive skills, will most likely guard Gasol throughout the game, so Gasol has to take advantage of this mismatch and be aggressive throughout the entire game. Although Gasol started very well vs. the Hawks scoring 10 points in first quarter, he struggled to get any shots afterwards, only scoring 6 pts for the rest of the game. That cannot happen tonight, especially as Bryant looks to force feed him the ball in the post due to the mismatch.

Bottom Line

This game will be another low-scoring outing especially playing vs. Grizzlies, who run a very slow paced game. Hopefully, the Lakers play with as much energy as they would if the Grizzlies had Gasol and Conley available. With SG Tony Allen, who many can argue as one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA, guarding Bryant today, the rest of the Lakers have to be ready to catch the ball cleanly and make their shots. With the injury bug hitting the Grizzlies, the Lakers should come away with a victory tonight to finish 2-2 on their road trip.

Prediction

Lakers: 99-93

Kanta Ito currently attends UC Santa Cruz as a 4th year undergraduate Business Management Economics major. Kanta also contributes to Warriors World and seeks to attend Graduate School to study Sports Management.
  • Paytc

    It looks like Kobe’s plan of getting Gasol going may at least payed off tonight.
    That may be the highest point total of the season for Gasol. Kobe knows he needs Gasol or another so call championship caliber experienced player playing well to get back to winning NBA titles. However……

    We cannot get too high after a win or too low after a few loses.
    The goal remains the same…. have healthy capable players,make it to the playoffs,and play our best ball in money time.

    Go Lakers !