After a day off yesterday, the Lakers are ready to get back in action tonight back at Staples Center, where a date with the Memphis Grizzlies awaits. While playing two overtime thrillers in Oklahoma City and Houston, the Lakers look forward to the comfort of the home crowd and the banners in the rafters as they attempt to dispose of a young Memphis team. The Grizzlies come into tonight’s match-up with a 1-4 record, including an 0-3 record away from home. Los Angeles should be able to extend this streak tonight, but it may be harder than usual. The Lakers are struggling with injury issues, and both big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are sitting this one out. If the Lakers want to improve to 5-1 they are going to have to rely heavily on Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest, and will need production out of their so-far dismal bench. Memphis is a fast break team that will look to push the tempo early and often, and it will be up to Los Angeles to play controlled, diligent basketball, that will upset the Grizzlies’ rhythm. With a game against Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets looming on Sunday evening, here is what the Lakers must do to make sure they are 5-1 going into the game with the Hornets:
- Tortoise versus the hare: The Lakers are a good running team, especially the second unit, but running with the Grizzlies could cost them more than it could benefit them. With gunners such as OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, and now Allen Iverson, this Memphis team will push the ball consistently and look to get easy buckets off of Los Angeles turnovers and missed baskets. It will be crucial for the Lakers to slow the pace of the game as much as possible and limit Memphis’ fast break opportunities.
- Marc my words: While the Lakers are without their Gasol, Memphis will not be. Marc Gasol, also known as Pau’s younger brother, is developing into a legitimate post threat that is very reminiscent of a younger Pau. Without Bynum and Pau in the post, the Lakers must rely on DJ Mbenga to try and slow down Gasol as much as possible, but that task could be easier said than done.
- Oh yeah, that Kobe guy: Without their dominant post players, the Lakers are going to rely heavily on the shooting hand of Kobe Bryant. There is no doubt that Bryant has been the offensive leader so far this year for Los Angeles, averaging over 33 points a contest, and they will most likely need another scoring outburst from him tonight against Memphis. Bryant will be especially crucial if the bench is unable to perform at a high level. Look for a lot of number 24 in tonight’s game.
Even without Bynum and Gasol, the Lakers still are an overwhelming opponent for the Grizzlies. Los Angeles should be able to win this game based on pure talent alone, but look for Memphis to give this battered Laker’s team more trouble then they are expecting.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Friday, November 6, 2009
Staples Center, Los Angeles
Tip-off: 7:30 PST
TV: FS West
Radio: 710 ESPN (NEW Home of the Los Angeles Lakers)