Lakers Vs. Grizzlies: Memphis Comes To Arena On 11-Game Winning Streak
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers face the scorching-hot Memphis Grizzlies at on Friday night.

The Grizzlies are on an 11-game winning streak, not losing since last year. They have an average point differential of 10.7 during this streak. The Lakers, on the other hand, have won 11 total games since Dec. 4 and have lost four of their last five games. L.A. is currently two games out of the final Play-In Game spot.

LeBron James is listed as questionable with left ankle soreness but if the last few games are any indication of his status then he should be good to play. LeBron has scored over 30 points in five of the last seven games and is 284 points away from breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for most points scored in NBA history.

Anthony Davis continues to be out with a right foot stress injury. Darvin Ham mentioned on Wednesday that Davis has been pain-free after ramping up individual workouts. Davis was seen on the practice court on Thursday. Austin Reaves (hamstring strain) and Lonnie Walker IV (knee tendinitis) are also still out for the Lakers.

For Memphis, only Ziare Williams is listed as questionable with an illness. Former Lakers guard Danny Green continues his recovery from a torn ACL and is out.

The Grizzlies are one of the best offensive teams in the league with the sixth-best offensive rating. They play with the fastest pace too, posing a problem for a Lakers team that allows the seventh most fastbreak points at 15 per game.

Much of that success pushing the ball can be attributed to the Grizzlies’ strong rebounding skills — they are first in the league with 59 per game. The Lakers as of late have struggled to control the boards. L.A. has won the rebounding battle in one of its last five games.

Ja Morant is the heartbeat of this Grizzlies team, averaging 29 points per game in the month of January. His explosive play should command the attention of Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder. Containing Morant is the key to victory, but just one part of solving the problem.

Memphis is a deep roster with six players averaging double-digit points. Desmond Bane is having another breakout season, averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists. Jaren Jackson Jr. has come alive too, being in double figures in every game except one during this win streak.

It should take a complete defensive effort from the Lakers to win the game, which has been inconsistent. Two teams have scored more than 130 points against the Lakers in the last two weeks — only a stretch in December where L.A. allowed 130 points in three straight games has been worse. Memphis has eclipsed 130 points in three of its last four games.

Defensively though is where the Grizzlies have been excelling all season. Their defensive rating is the best in the league with strong perimeter and interior defenders. Opponents are shooting 44.5% from the field against Memphis, the lowest in the league. It’s been a strong suit of their win streak.

The Lakers are in dire need of a victory before things spiral out of control. A win against the Grizzlies will not only be huge for the standings but a major confidence booster for the Lakers. A loss though will slightly louden the alarms for another season without the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers (20-25) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (31-13)

7:00 p.m. PT, Jan. 20, 2023 Arena, Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant

Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Wenyen Gabriel, Kendrick Nunn, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Max Christie

Projected Grizzlies Starting Lineup:
PG: Ja Morant
SG: Desmond Bane
SF: Dillon Brooks
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
C: Steven Adams

Key Reserves: Brandon Clarke, Santi Aldama, Tyus Jones, John Konchar

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