Lakers Vs. Grizzlies Game Preview & TV Info: Defending Winning Streak
LeBron James, Ja Morant, Lakers, Grizzlies
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One team’s winning streak will come to an end when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

The Lakers have won four games in a row for the first time this season thanks to the 134-118 win over the Atlanta Hawks. But the Grizzlies could threaten L.A.’s run, entering the game unbeaten in the previous eight matchups — the longest active streak in the Western Conference.

Memphis won’t have Steven Adams this time around, who’s joined John Konchar and Xavier Tillman in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. But Yves Pons, Kyle Anderson, and Ja Morant could return to action after sitting out the recent win over the L.A. Clippers.

Dillon Brooks’ status was “day-to-day” after he injured his ankle on Saturday, so Memphis will be without him as well.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will have the same personnel at their disposal they had against the Hawks.

Adams’ absence alleviates many of the Lakers’ concerns with rebounding, particularly after giving up 52.0 boards per night over the last four games (the second-most in the NBA during the stretch). But L.A. still needs to find a way to stop Morant, who averages 40.5 against the Purple and Gold this season — the most of any opponent he has faced.

The Lakers might not be able to completely contain the former second overall pick, who’s been in phenomenal form recently. But they can’t let him take the game over again, as he did in the previous meeting between the two sides.

Morant came close to matching the Lakers’ fourth-quarter 16 points by chipping in 11 just by himself, leading the Grizzlies’ comeback in the 104-99 win on Dec. 29 — which remains the Purple and Gold’s last defeat they have suffered.

His eruption cancelled out L.A.’s laudable effort from the previous three-and-a-half quarters when they kept exploiting the Grizzlies’ vulnerable perimeter defense and went 13-for-31 (41.9%) from downtown, staying ahead of their rivals until the middle of the final period.

Finding open looks for Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, and the red-hot Malik Monk should be the priority on the offensive end for Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Among other goals, the Lakers need to keep up the good work at protecting the ball, especially as the Grizzlies lead the NBA in steals (10.2 per game).

James called on L.A. to “continue to play good basketball” when they square off with Memphis, recognizing the importance of the clash and the Lakers’ ability to beat top teams — if they don’t trip themselves up with careless errors, that is.

Playing good basketball but for the full four quarters the last time they battled the Grizzlies would have likely allowed L.A. to approach the Sunday clash on the back of a six-game winning run. It would have been the longest streak in the West.

But they didn’t and instead, it’s Memphis who’s currently the conference’s hottest team.

However, if the Lakers answer James’ call, and add more consistency to their performance, they might take that away from the Grizzlies as revenge. An eye for an eye. And a streak for a streak.

Lakers (21-19) vs. Grizzlies (27-14)

6:30 p.m. PT, Jan. 4, 2022 Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Malik Monk
PF: Stanley Johnson
C: LeBron James

Key Reserves: Talen Horton-Tucker, Austin Reaves, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard

Projected Grizzlies Starting Lineup:

PG: Ja Morant
SG: Desmond Bane
SF: Dillon Brooks
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
C: Brandon Clarke

Key Reserves: Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton, Kyle Anderson, Ziaire Williams, Jarrett Culver

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