The Los Angeles Lakers dropped their previous game to the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day, but they are looking to rebound today when they play the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers got down early against the Clippers and they fell short of making an amazing fourth quarter comeback.
The Lakers trailed by 28 heading into the fourth quarter, but D’Angelo Russell led the second unit and they cut the lead down to seven points with plenty of time left to complete the comeback. The Clippers put their starting unit back into the game and sustained the lead and the Lakers lost their second straight game.
The Lakers are going on a brief three-game road trip in Memphis, Charlotte, and finally Boston. Los Angeles is looking to build on their tremendous fourth quarter effort against the Clippers and put a few wins together.
Frontcourt: The Grizzlies frontcourt begins and ends with Marc Gasol. Gasol is one of the most skilled big men in the NBA and can produce in a variety of ways. The big man has a great back to the basket game, can knock down mid-range jumpers, and probably the best passing big man in the league. Roy Hibbert will have his hands full on the defensive end and if the Lakers decide to double team Gasol, they must communicate with each other and rotate well defensively.
The Lakers will see a familiar face in the frontcourt in Matt Barnes. Barnes was recently dealt to the Grizzlies this past offseason and has had a resurgence in Memphis after a few seasons with the Clippers. Barnes is the ultimate hustle player who will come up with loose balls and make plays defensively. Barnes is also known for knocking down the corner three, so the Lakers will need to close out defensively.
Backcourt: One of the most underrated point guards in the league is Mike Conley, and he is the starting point guard for the Grizzlies. The lefty is quick and crafty with the basketball in his hands and is always a threat to score. Conley can create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates, so D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson will have to limit his penetration and keep the ball out of his hands.
Starting at shooting guard for the Grizzlies is Courtney Lee, who is a lock-down defender who can make open three-pointers. Lee will also slash to the basket and get himself open, but he does not create his own shot very often. His best looks will come when Conley penetrates and draws Lee’s defender into the paint, so the key to shutting down Lee is shutting down Conley.
Keys to Victory:
Limit Conley: The Grizzlies will get plenty of scoring opportunities if the Lakers guards cannot stay in front of Conley. Conley will be a key to getting everyone on his team good looks, so limiting his productivity is crucial for the Lakers. If the Lakers can shut down Conley, they will not have to worry about rotating to help the guards, therefore they can keep a body on Gasol down low.
Quick Start: The Lakers have a bad habit of getting down early and staying down for the rest of the game. Playing catch up all game is more mentally draining than playing with a lead, so the Lakers need to make sure they come out of the gate aggressively. The key to victory with such a young team is mental, so if they are playing good basketball from the beginning, their confidence will show and they will have a good chance of winning the game.
Russell to Randle: The D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle pick-and-roll seems to be nonexistent since the two young Lakers were demoted to the bench. Coach Byron Scott hinted that he may change the starting lineup again, so we may see Russell and Randle share the floor for longer periods of time. With the two of them on the floor, they should start running the two-man game, because that will be a signature of the Lakers style for years to come if they develop good chemistry.
Los Angeles Lakers (5-25) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (16-16)
3:00 P.M. PST, December 27, 2015
FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 (Spanish)
Grizzlies Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Matt Barnes
PF: Jeff Green
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: SG: Vince Carter, SF: Tony Allen, PF: Zach Randolph
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: PG: D’Angelo Russell, PF: Julius Randle, PF: Brandon Bass