TLN’s Pregame Report: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

The Lakers are back at the Staples Center tonight hosting the Memphis Grizzlies. This is the first of 15 back-to-back games this season. Playing games with a minimal amount of rest between them can be difficult, but the Lakers will be up for the challenge.

Plus, it’s always great to see the Gasol brothers go at it.

Two brothers from Spain making it to the NBA, one a two-time champion, but both overcoming several obstacles and still having success is a great story. The story of how Pau became a Laker for draft picks and players including his brother Marc is always brought up and will unfortunately never go away when these teams meet.

Pau Gasol was named Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds & five assists.

The Grizzlies are one of the league’s youngest teams with the average age of 24 years and 225 days. Sometimes this would be a good thing, however it doesn’t bode well for them when facing the veteran-laden Purple and Gold.

The Grizzlies back court has shown versatility and production. O.J. Mayo is a solid young player averaging 18 points per game. Mike Conley has shown that the light has come on and understands what he has to do as the lead guard averaging 15 points, 8.3 assists and a league leading 3.67 steals. Memphis recently locked up their point guard signing him to a contract extension worth $45 million over five years. Rudy Gay is the teams leading scorer averaging 23.6 points per game.

The Grizzlies are displayed an improved defense as evidenced by the franchise-record 22 steals in their game against the Timberwolves. Granted it wasn’t against the highest level of competition, but putting that type of ball pressure on display is impressive.

Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have been dominant in the painted area. They’ve helped the Lakers front line average over 40 points per game. The Lakers will continue to run their offense through Pau Gasol allowing him to set the table for the rest of the team or create for himself.

The Grizzlies want to get out in transition and run. The Lakers will have to control the tempo, play at their pace. It is a must that the Lakers get back in transition and not let this team run.

Los Angeles has to take care of the ball and avoid turning it over. They are applying a lot of ball pressure and not allowing teams to easily bring the ball up the floor. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom’s size and passing ability will have the Grizzlies off-balance and out of position.

Zach Randolph has missed the last two games. I’m expecting him to be in the starting lineup tonight. Theit front line can score and rebound. The Lakers frontline has to come out and play aggressive on both ends on the court, attack the basket offensively and limit the Grizzlies points in the paint defensively. The Lakers ball movement, defense, depth and execution down the stretch will lead to another Lakers win.

Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST

Television -
• Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
• Memphis: Fox Sports TN (Pete Pranica & Sean Tuohy)

Radio -
• Los Angeles: ESPN 710 AM (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• Memphis: 103.5 FM (Eric Hasseltine & Hank McDowell)

Injuries -

Lakers:
• Luke Walton (Hamstring) Listed as Day-to-Day
• Andrew Bynum (Knee) Out

Grizzlies:
• PF Zach Randolph (Right Hip Contusion) Listed as Day-to-Day
• C Marc Gasol (Ankle) Listed as Day-to-Day
• SG Xavier Henry (Stiff Neck) Listed as Day-to-Day

Jeff Little is the pre-game writer for LakerNation.com. Follow him on Twitter.