Last night the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a lopsided 113-80 loss to the Toronto Raptors. The Lakers were sluggish from the start and never recovered to challenge the Raptors. Perhaps, the lone bright spot was Brandon Ingram. He scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but other than that, the Lakers were outplayed and out-hustled by a better team.
Tonight they will look and try to end their four-game road trip with a win against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are coming off a 95-94 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night. Marc Gasol led the team with 25 points and five blocks. Last week starting point guard, Mike Conley, suffered a back injury and will miss at least six weeks. After re-signing with the Grizzlies over the summer on a five-year, $153 million dollar deal, Conley was enjoying a solid year averaging 19.2 points, 5.7 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game.
In Conley’s absence, Andrew Harrison has filled in quite well. In his first start against the Raptors on Wednesday night, he scored 21 points and dished out four assists and against the Orlando Magic on Thursday he scored 11 points. Although he isn’t expected to perform at the level of a 10-year veteran, he is asked to carry more of an offensive load. He gives Memphis an athletic presence that could possibly cause problems for the Lakers if he’s able to penetrate into the paint. The Lakers must stay sound on the defensive end and not let Harrison, or any of the Grizzlies’ other role players, find their rhythm.
Tony Allen doesn’t provide too much offense for the Grizzlies, averaging eight points per game this season, but is still one of the better defenders in the league. He gives the Grizzlies a tough player that’s always willing to do the dirty work; fight for rebounds, dive for loose balls, and play gritty defense. He will mostly like be asked to guard Brandon Ingram, so this will serve as a great test for the rookie.
Against the Raptors the Lakers sorely missed the playmaking of both D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young as the offense struggled to find any kind of fluidity. Jose Calderon has done well in Russell’s absence, but he will need to find a way to do a little more if the Lakers want to come home with a victory.
Ingram finally had somewhat of a breakout offensive game last night. Hopefully he will be able to continue his solid play tonight against a good defensive team. He will need to utilize his size advantage against some of the smaller Grizzlies guards.
Lou Williams (13 points) and Jordan Clarkson (14 points) played okay last night. They combined to shoot 8-of-29 from the field and dish out five assists. They need to find the strength to carry the Lakers offense until Young and Russell return from injuries.
The Grizzlies frontcourt has been solid this season. Marc Gasol has been his usual self, averaging 18.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. What makes Gasol a difficult matchup is his ability to dribble, pass, and shoot the ball effectively. Timofey Mozgov will certainly have his hands full tonight; he must move his feet on defense and force Gasol to take contested shots.
Zach Randolph manned the power forward spot for years, but this year he he was moved to a reserve role in favor of JaMychal Green. Green is currently averaging 9.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. His 227-pound frame is certainly not very easy to move so Julius Randle must use his versatility to make his way to the basket.
The small forward position has been mix-and-match for the Grizzlies this season. Chandler Parsons has only played in six games due to ongoing knee issues and James Ennis recently strained his calf. That leaves rookie Troy Williams to man the starting small forward role and he is a very good athlete capable of hitting open jumpers.
The trio of Randle, Mozgov, and Luol Deng combined to score an abysmal 12 points in last night’s loss. That simply will not get it done if the Lakers want success moving forward. Mozgov’s primary focus should be to find ways to limit Gasol on the offensive end. He will need to stay disciplined and stay out of foul trouble.
The Lakers must find ways for Deng to score the ball closer to the basket because his jump shot continues fall short of the hoop. He clearly needs a confidence boost and maybe seeing the ball go through the basket early in the game will do that.
The availability of Larry Nance Jr. is uncertain for tonight after he suffered a knee contusion last night. If he’s unable to play, Tarik Black and Thomas Robinson will have to pick up the slack.
3 Keys to Victory
The Lakers need to find an offensive flow early in the game. When they are unable to find rhythm from the beginning, it leaves them struggling to crawl their way back into the game and puts a lot of pressure on the bench. The starters must find a way to get an offensive rhythm early
Take Care of the Ball
Last night the Lakers committed 18 turnovers. This after they committed 24 against the Chicago Bulls. The Grizzlies are a tough, gritty, physical defensive team so the Lakers must focus on taking care of the ball or they will allow a Memphis team that is not great offensively to get easy buckets.
Sense of Urgency
The Lakers must play with energy. They often begin games sluggish and it’s starting to have its consequences. With Russell and Young currently absent, they simply can’t afford to play without consistent energy.
Los Angeles Lakers (10-11) Vs. Memphis Grizzlies (12-8)
5:00 P.M. PST, December 3, 2016
FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Grizzlies Starting Lineup:
PG: Andrew Harrison
SG: Tony Allen
SF: Troy Williams
PF: JaMychal Green
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: Jarell Martin, Deyonta Davis, Troy Daniels, Wade Baldwin IV
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Brandon Ingram
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Thomas Robinson, Lou Williams, Tarik Black