The Lakers continue their three game road trip in Memphis when they take on the very talented Grizzlies. After a listless outing in Sacramento, the Lakers look to rebound tonight and play with intensity. Because otherwise, this could be a blowout. The Grizzlies are a very good team at 8-2 with recent wins against the Heat and the Thunder. The Lakers will need to play their best if they hope to steal a win on the road tonight.
For starters, Dwight Howard needs to get more than four shot attempt. Furthermore, the Lakers will need to share the ball and get all of their stars involved if they hope to have a shot tonight. Most importantly the Lakers will need to step up their defense. On Wednesday night they allowed a Kings team which normally averages 42 percent from the field to shoot a scorching 54.3 percent. This years squad will need figure out things quickly on the defensive end of the floor if they hope to compete at the highest level.
Frontcourt: After a lovely Thanksgiving, the Gasol brothers will put good family feelings aside and face off tonight. Marc Gasol is a load down low and will definitely challenge Dwight Howard with his size and skill. Marc’s percentages are excellent (49.5 percent from the field and 89.5 percent from the charity stripe). At the four, Zach Randolph is starting off the season strong with 16.7 points and 13.6 boards per game. Randolph narrowly avoided a suspension after confronting Kendrick Perkins after last Thursday’s game; he received a $25,000 fine for his actions. Despite his off court actions, Randolph has played some of his most consistent basketball while with the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay leads the team in scoring with 20 points per game. In addition to his offensive contributions, Gay is also leading the charge on defense with a superb 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. When it’s crunch time the Grizzlies look to Gay to hit the big shots. MWP will have his hands full tonight guarding the talented forward.
Backcourt: The Grizzlies may have one of the best defensive backcourts in the league. Tony Allen is one of the premier wing defenders in the NBA and will surely give Kobe all he can handle tonight. Allen hasn’t found his groove on offense, shooting only 34.6 percent from the field. His partner in crime is the shifty point guard Mike Conley who has two steals to his name per contest. Conley has drastically improved his shooting this year and is knocking down 48.1 percent of his shots including 39.5 percent of his three pointers. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon will need to play hand-in-face defense tonight.
Key to Lakers’ Victory:
Crisp Ball Movement: The Lakers need to get Dwight Howard engaged on offense tonight. The key to getting the ball down low will be good ball movement and spacing. For perspective, Dwight Howard attempted as many shots as backup Jordan Hill in more than double the minutes. Good ball movement also assumes that the Lakers don’t turn the ball over. The Grizzlies are tied for second in the league with 9.4 steals per game. On the flip side the Lakers are one of the worst in the league with 16.3 turnovers per contest.
Defense: One of the biggest concerns that most people had when they heard that D’Antoni was selected to be the next coach of the Lakers was about defense. Historically, D’Antoni’s teams have not been known for their defensive prowess. While the Lakers played great defense down the stretch to earn a win against the Nets, they barely showed any interest on defense when the faced the lowly Kings. Will the Lakers defense show up tonight? Until the Lakers can show consistency on defense, they will remain a mediocre team.
Los Angeles Lakers (6-6) at Memphis Grizzlies (8-2)
5:00 PM PST, November 23, 2012
FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: TWC Sports Network
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Grizzlies Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: GF: Quincy Pondexter FC: Marreese Speights PG: Jerryd Bayless