The Los Angeles Lakers look to get back on track and put an end to their three-game losing streak when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. The Lakers dominated Memphis in the first meeting between these teams this season as they still had no answer for Anthony Davis, but the Grizzlies didn’t have superstar Ja Morant in that contest.
The Lakers are once again be without D’Angelo Russell due to a bruised tailbone as well as Rui Hachimura, which could come into play as the forward was outstanding against Memphis in the playoffs last year and once again in the first meeting of this season. But as long as the Lakers have Davis, things should be just fine.
Lately, no one has had an answer for Davis as he is in the midst of perhaps his best stretch as a member of the Lakers. The big man is averaging 28.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.9 blocks over the last 10 games. And against Memphis over the last couple seasons, his work on the defensive end has dictated everything as he simply controls the paint and more of that will be needed.
The question for the Lakers is which of the role players will step up to help Davis and LeBron James. LeBron will certainly be looking to bounce back after an off night against Miami, but the Lakers need more consistency from the role players.
Austin Reaves was moved into the starting lineup against Miami and continued his excellent play, but someone else needs to step up. Second-year guard Max Christie looked up to the task against the Heat and Darvin Ham may finally turn to him consistently off the bench as he has risen to the occasion any time he’s been given an opportunity.
Christian Wood has also been coming on as of late and with Memphis not having a lot of size, this could be another contest where the big man can make an impact off the bench.
The Grizzlies are a different team with Morant in the lineup and he remains just as explosive as ever, so the Lakers must try to contain him as much as possible. Additionally, Desmond Bane can get absolutely scorching and the Lakers have struggled to defend the 3-point line.
But this could be a game where the Lakers get back on track in that area as Memphis is dead last in the league in 3-point percentage. If the Lakers can just shoot an average percentage from deep, combined with the advantage they should have in the paint, this could be the game where things begin to turn around and they get back on track.
Los Angeles Lakers (17-18) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (11-23)
7:00 p.m. PT, Jan. 5, 2024
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers starting lineup:
PG: Austin Reaves
SG: Cam Reddish
SF: Taurean Prince
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Jarred Vanderbilt, Max Christie, Christian Wood, Jaxson Hayes
Projected Grizzlies starting lineup:
PG: Ja Morant
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Desmond Bane
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
C: Bismack Biyombo
Key Reserves: Santi Aldama, Luke Kennard, Ziaire Williams, Xavier Tillman
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