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Preview: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

The Lakers (17-24) will try to snap a 3-game losing streak to end a 3-game road trip with something positive before heading back to Los Angeles. The loss on Monday versus Chicago symbolized a season where the Lakers just can't seem to get of their own way to win games.

The frustrations of seeing losses after losses are resurfacing again among the players as Kobe Bryant expresses the need for a change now and Dwight Howard pointing at his lack of "touches" in the paint as a vehicle for the result against the Bulls. Even general manager Mitch Kupchak weighed in on what he thinks is the real problem with the team. Nevertheless, the Lakers can't blame anyone or anything but themselves, and only they can get themselves out of it. Tonight is another opportunity to do just that.

The last time the Lakers were in town back in November, Rudy Gay's 21 points were enough to lead his Memphis Grizzlies (26-14) to a 106-98 victory over the purple and gold. After being down 34-18 at the end of the 1st quarter in that game, the Lakers rallied to a 49-46 lead at halftime by outscoring Memphis 31-22 in the 2nd quarter. But since consistency has been a major problem all season long, the Lakers couldn't even build on their slim lead in the 2nd half to scratch out a win.

The Grizzlies are currently the 4th seed in the west and have a 15-6 record at home. However, they are coming off of a heartbreaking 82-81 loss at the FedEx Forum against Indiana on Monday, so the Lakers better expect an already solid opponent looking to make up for that loss. And if the Lakers are to win tonight, they have to want it as a team on both ends of the floor.

This is the last visit in Memphis for the Lakers this season as the final meeting versus the Grizzlies will take place at Staples Center on April 5th. The Lakers are 10-11 overall and 3 of the last 5 games at the FedEx Forum against the Grizzlies since the team's move to Memphis in 2001. L.A. took last season's series over Memphis, 2-1.

Matchup of the Game

Dwight Howard vs. Marc Gasol: It's important for the Lakers to involve Howard early and often if they want to win this game since he generally plays better on the other end when the offense looks for him first. He averages 17 points in his career against Memphis but only attempted 7 shots for 7 points last time he was here. You only have to do the math to figure out how that game might have ended for the Lakers if Howard had enough chances in the post on an 8-point loss.

Keys to the Game

> Defense: It's not a stretch this season I know, but all 5 starters for the Grizzlies (yes, including Tony Allen) scored in double figures back in November. That can't happen again tonight. The Lakers have to control things they can control to get back to winning. Allowing players that usually don't score a lot put up points is one of them.

> Howard: What's the point of trading for this guy and putting Pau Gasol on the bench if you don't use him? Dwight wants to be a force on offense, so let him.

> Turnovers: The other head of the ugly monster. The Lakers turned the ball over 18 times which Memphis converted to 29 points the other way in the last game. The Grizzlies are 2nd in the league on defense and on forcing turnovers (16.2 per game) from their opponent. It's imperative for the Lakers to be extra careful with their decisions and ball-handling tonight.

Watch Out For

LAKERS: Pau Gasol — He responded by averaging 20 points on 55% shooting from the field the last 2 games since getting benched by Mike D'Antoni in Toronto. Pau will be playing on familiar court against a familiar team tonight, so expect him to continue to put good numbers on offense.

GRIZZLIES: Zach Randolph — Z-Bo has always been one of those guys difficult to deal with in the paint because of his wide body and activity around the boards. He had 17 points on 6-14 shooting last time these 2 teams went at it, and that was while being defended by Pau. The smaller, lighter Earl Clark will have the tough assignment tonight in trying to handle Randolph down-low. No way Memphis won't take advantage of that matchup often.

Game Info

Tonight @ Memphis Grizzlies
Tip-off: 5:00 p.m.
FedEx Forum
TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

LAKERS: Steve Blake (abdomen) and Jordan Hill (hip – out for season) are both out.

GRIZZLIES: None
 

Preview: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

Feb. 23, 2010 - Memphis, TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES - epa02050943 Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol (R), of Spain, defends his brother and Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol (L), of Spain, at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, USA on 23 February 2010.

Is there anything better to forge a bond with your brother than a little sibling rivalry? Probably not. But for the Gasol brothers, their NBA rivalry has been extremely one-sided so far. After dropping their last two games, the Lakers (13-4) head out on the road again to the FedEx Forum where the Memphis Grizzlies (7-10) have won 5 of their last 9 games. This is the first game of a back-to-back road games for the Lakers concluding in Houston tomorrow night.

The 2-time defending champs easily took care of the Grizzlies in their first meeting of the season at Staples Center by 19 points Nov. 2nd. It was one of those long forgotten games where they shot well and defended well in one night. They burned Memphis with a 51.2% shooting from the field and 60.9% from behind the arc while limiting them to 41.3% shooting overall. Five Lakers scored in double-figures, including all three of “The Killer Bs”. But, they allowed Rudy Gay score 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting. Tonight, they’ll have another player to worry about.

After recovering from a back injury, Zach Randolph is back to face the Lakers for the first time this season. Randolph is their second-leading scorer averaging 16.8 PPG but is their top rebounder at 11.3 RPG. Lamar Odom will have the assignment of bodying him up in the post where Randolph’s wide body makes him such a tough player to guard. If that wasn’t enough, Zach has enough touch to hit a 3-pointer when he needs to.

The Grizzlies have made a change in their starting lineup putting former USC standout O.J. Mayo in the 6th Man role in place of rookie Xavier Henry. That move has benefitted them so far because Mayo provides a true scoring punch off of the bench that’s been sorely lacking for them. With him on the bench, their second unit has outscored the opposing bench in all four games Mayo became a sub. The Grizzlies bench is currently averaging 41.8 PPG while the Lakers’ subs are putting up 33.5 PPG. That could be the deciding factor tonight if the Lakers come out for this game like they’ve been doing the past couple of games.

The Lakers are still the highest-scoring team in the NBA at 109.5 PPG and still hovering around the 16th spot on defense giving up 100.3 PPG. But, they’ve dropped in rebounding down to 3rd place at 45.7 RPG and in assists from 2nd to 4th at 23.6 APG. That means that they’ve slipping in their efforts to grab missed shots and have been stagnant at running the Triangle the way they’re supposed to. You can point at poor shooting as the reason to their sudden reliance for Kobe Bryant to run the offense through isolation plays, but there’s no excuse why they’re not moving and sharing the ball more to get everybody else in a better position to score like they’re supposed to in this offense. The Lakers can’t allow that to continue if they want to see another winning streak starting tonight.

The Lakers had a bit of a pep in them after their practice on Monday, including Phil Jackson. He even changed his disappointment over the delay to Andrew Bynum‘s return down to a concern over the big minutes both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have been getting the entire season. The players going through practice forgetting about the last two frustrating losses isn’t new, but Jackson softening his stance on any issue is another. Maybe he realized that there’s no point carrying his discontentment after the game against Indiana or perhaps he sensed that the Lakers are prepared to get back on the winning track during practice.

We shall see.

The Lakers have taken three of the last four games against the Grizzlies at Memphis. They lost the first game at the FedEx Forum last season, 93-95 but won the very next visit by just 1 point, 99-98. The Lakers are 5-2 on the road while the Grizzlies are 5-4 at home. Memphis is 14th on offense (100.4 PPG), 18th in rebounds (41.1 RPG), 21st in assists (19.8 APG) and 20th on defense (101.9 PPG). However, those low numbers will only mean something if the Lakers don’t allow Memphis from becoming more of a competition than they should be.

GO LAKERS!!!

TP&G Blog’s Matchup of the Game

Lamar Odom vs. Zach Randolph: Odom had it easy in the first game against Memphis not having to deal with Randolph’s scoring and rebounding. He will have to be all business tonight if the Lakers are to come out with a W.

Keys for the Lakers

Offense

1. Pau Gasol: He’s averaging 26.9 PPG and 10.9 RPG against his brother Marc since coming over to the Lakers. Like they say: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Then again, the Lakers need to get back to running things through Pau no matter who the opposition is.
2. Kobe Bryant: With Pau running things inside, Kobe should also do the same outside. Bryant has to keep continuing to set the perimeter game for the Lakers early since they seem to shoot well when Kobe takes the pressure off of them at the start of the game.
3. The Bench: With Mayo now coming off of the bench, “The Renegades” will need to do their job tonight. Shannon Brown will need to be sharp with his shooting, especially if Mayo goes off on a scoring spree.

Defense

1. REBOUND! REBOUND! REBOUND!: The Lakers have to forget about not having Bynum in the middle and get back to dominating teams on the glass. At the same time, they can’t rely on just Gasol and Odom to keep the Grizzlies to just one shot per possession. They will all have to help out.
2. Energy: The one thing the Lakers have been lacking of lately. Memphis will not sit by and wait for them to awaken. If they take their time again before they decide to play some basketball, the game could already be out of their reach.
3. Hustle: The pressure of winning this game all lies with the Lakers, so the Grizzlies will throw everything at them to hand them a rare 3-game losing streak. The Lakers can’t afford to be a step too slow on loose balls, missed shots or covering an open man along the perimeter.

Game Info

Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m. (PST).  TV: KCAL-9 (Los Angeles)  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

Preview: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

It didn’t seem like the Lakers (37-11) were away from Staples Center for almost two weeks now, but this is it. One last stop in this successful road trip. Tonight, they face the Memphis Grizzlies (25-21) for the second time this season.

The last time these two teams met in Los Angeles back in November Memphis still had Allen Iverson on the roster. Well, the cancer is gone now so the Grizzlies are breathing a little easier now and playing better basketball. But is it good enough to beat the defending champs? That is all up to the Lakers.


Back in Nov., Kobe Bryant dropped a 41-point bomb on Memphis’ defense. He now only needs 28 points to catch Jerry West on the NBA’s all-time scoring leaders list at number 14. But that all depends upon which team shows up for them.

Still, Kobe has been averaging 33 points and 51.5% shooting against the Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. Like so many teams in the entire league, Memphis just do not have the answer for #24. Bryant has been nursing a stiff ankle for more than 3 days now, but I don’t think it will matter should he decide to go after another milestone tonight.

The Lakers are coming off a big win from their biggest game last night against the Celtics who played the best defense they could muster but still ends up on the losing end in the first matchup between the two most decorated teams in NBA history. However, the Lakers played poorly for almost 3 full quarters by showing little energy, effort and intelligence on both offense and defense. But, I expect them to rectify that tonight.

Memphis has the best home record among any team not in the top 8 in the west at 17-6, but they have lost their last 2 games to the Spurs and Hornets. The Lakers are now 14-8 on the road and have taken 4 of the last 5 games in Memphis.

Both teams are putting up 103 points per game this season, but the Lakers have the edge on defense only allowing 96.6 per game (9th) versus 103.5 PPG (24th) for the Grizzlies. The defending champs are also the third best in the association in opponent field goal percentage allowing the other team shoot 47.4% per game.

However, Memphis’ starting lineup averages 84.9 points per game compared to 79.6 PPG for the Lakers’ starters. The Grizzlies are lead by Zach Randolph (21 PPG) who can be a headache in the paint because of his wide body and ability to use his size to move defenders away. Rudy Gay (19.9 PPG) and O.J. Mayo (18.3) are the highly talented young guns for Memphis and are more than capable of scoring anywhere on the court.

I really am not sure why their pairing with the Grizzlies can be a problem when you compare their point average to one another. You can never have too much perimeter shooters. The way Memphis is playing defense, they’re gonna need all the scorers they can get.

Pau Gasol will face his former team and brother Marc Gasol — the Lakers’ former second-round draft pick that got sent to Memphis on a multi-player deal with the Lakers exactly 2 years ago back in Feb. 1, 2008 for his brother Pau. Marc’s big improvement has prompted some people that the trade is no longer as lop sided as before.

Are you kidding me? Of course it is. I mean do you really think Marc can be anywhere as talented, smart, and as consistent as Pau? Not in this lifetime. But that doesn’t mean Marc will never make a name for himself in the NBA. It’s just that he won’t be anywhere as good as his older brother.

The keys for the Lakers tonight are use their size in the paint, rebound, and play better on both sides of the court than they did against Boston. Even if they aren’t considered a playoff-bound team, the Grizzlies should not be underestimated. This is a young team that’s got enough talent to matchup well with a lot of teams in this league.

Being the final game of a long road schedule, this matchup tonight have all the makings of a classic trap for the Lakers. In other words, there’s a chance the Lakers might play around with the Grizzlies until it’s too late to save themselves from another upset.

But judging the way the Lakers have handled this team in the past, I think this game will be their 5th win in a row.

Tip-off is at 5:00. TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

Preview: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

It didn’t seem like the Lakers (37-11) were away from Staples Center for almost two weeks now, but this is it. One last stop in this successful road trip. Tonight, they face the Memphis Grizzlies (25-21) for the second time this season.

The last time these two teams met in Los Angeles back in November Memphis still had Allen Iverson on the roster. Well, the cancer is gone now so the Grizzlies are breathing a little easier now and playing better basketball. But is it good enough to beat the defending champs? That is all up to the Lakers.


Back in Nov., Kobe Bryant dropped a 41-point bomb on Memphis’ defense. He now only needs 28 points to catch Jerry West on the NBA’s all-time scoring leaders list at number 14. But that all depends upon which team shows up for them.

Still, Kobe has been averaging 33 points and 51.5% shooting against the Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. Like so many teams in the entire league, Memphis just do not have the answer for #24. Bryant has been nursing a stiff ankle for more than 3 days now, but I don’t think it will matter should he decide to go after another milestone tonight.

The Lakers are coming off a big win from their biggest game last night against the Celtics who played the best defense they could muster but still ends up on the losing end in the first matchup between the two most decorated teams in NBA history. However, the Lakers played poorly for almost 3 full quarters by showing little energy, effort and intelligence on both offense and defense. But, I expect them to rectify that tonight.

Memphis has the best home record among any team not in the top 8 in the west at 17-6, but they have lost their last 2 games to the Spurs and Hornets. The Lakers are now 14-8 on the road and have taken 4 of the last 5 games in Memphis.

Both teams are putting up 103 points per game this season, but the Lakers have the edge on defense only allowing 96.6 per game (9th) versus 103.5 PPG (24th) for the Grizzlies. The defending champs are also the third best in the association in opponent field goal percentage allowing the other team shoot 47.4% per game.

However, Memphis’ starting lineup averages 84.9 points per game compared to 79.6 PPG for the Lakers’ starters. The Grizzlies are lead by Zach Randolph (21 PPG) who can be a headache in the paint because of his wide body and ability to use his size to move defenders away. Rudy Gay (19.9 PPG) and O.J. Mayo (18.3) are the highly talented young guns for Memphis and are more than capable of scoring anywhere on the court.

I really am not sure why their pairing with the Grizzlies can be a problem when you compare their point average to one another. You can never have too much perimeter shooters. The way Memphis is playing defense, they’re gonna need all the scorers they can get.

Pau Gasol will face his former team and brother Marc Gasol — the Lakers’ former second-round draft pick that got sent to Memphis on a multi-player deal with the Lakers exactly 2 years ago back in Feb. 1, 2008 for his brother Pau. Marc’s big improvement has prompted some people that the trade is no longer as lop sided as before.

Are you kidding me? Of course it is. I mean do you really think Marc can be anywhere as talented, smart, and as consistent as Pau? Not in this lifetime. But that doesn’t mean Marc will never make a name for himself in the NBA. It’s just that he won’t be anywhere as good as his older brother.

The keys for the Lakers tonight are use their size in the paint, rebound, and play better on both sides of the court than they did against Boston. Even if they aren’t considered a playoff-bound team, the Grizzlies should not be underestimated. This is a young team that’s got enough talent to matchup well with a lot of teams in this league.

Being the final game of a long road schedule, this matchup tonight have all the makings of a classic trap for the Lakers. In other words, there’s a chance the Lakers might play around with the Grizzlies until it’s too late to save themselves from another upset.

But judging the way the Lakers have handled this team in the past, I think this game will be their 5th win in a row.

Tip-off is at 5:00. TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!!

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