After coming up short against the Indiana Pacers last night, the Lakers must turn right back around to take on Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and the always physical Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies come in to this game with a 31-24 record, and are right in the thick of the playoff race, currently sitting only one loss behind the Dallas Mavericks and two losses behind the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers have lost six of their last seven games and the two teams have split their first two meetings this season with each team winning on the road.
The frontcourt is a big-time strength for the Grizzlies, and the Lakers are going to struggle match the size, strength, and physicality of this team. Zach Randolph sets the tone for this team, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Lakers have recently gone small, shifting Wesley Johnson to the power forward position, but they may want to re-think that as Randolph will dominate someone as small as Johnson.
The center position will see the Gasol brothers battle as Marc and Pau face-off. While Pau is longer and slightly more athletic, Marc is more physical and is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Kent Bazemore starts at the small forward position, and has looked great since joining the Lakers. His energy, aggression, and scoring ability has really gotten the team going as of late. Going against the veteran Tayshaun Prince will be a challenge for him. Prince is no longer the offensive threat he once was, but he uses his length and great positioning to hound on the defensive end. Having a great rim protector like Gasol behind him allows him to be more aggressive than normal.
Mike Conley has grown into one of the most underrated point guards in the NBA. He is the pulse of this Grizzlies team and leads the team in scoring and assists. Kendall Marshall will have his hands full trying to contain Conley who is extremely quick. He must try to make Conley a scorer as opposed to a facilitator, as the Grizzlies don’t have a lot of playmakers on their team.
Courtney Lee starts at the shooting guard for the Grizzlies and continues to be a solid player. He is solid offensively, a great shooter, and can guard multiple positions. Jodie Meeks must make sure to not help too far off of Lee or he can make the Lakers pay.
Keys To A Lakers Victory
Run! Run! Run!: The Grizzlies are one of the stingiest defensive teams in the NBA, giving up only 94 points per game this season. The Lakers will not be successful against their halfcourt defense, so the team will have to get up and down the floor. Randolph and Marc Gasol are not the fastest players, so if the Laker wings can get out quickly before they can set up shop down low, they have the opportunity to put up some points. It will be on Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar to get the ball out as fast as possible, and on the defense to get some stops and create some turnovers.
Shoot The Lights Out: The Lakers don’t have many advantages in this game, but one area in which they have a decided advantage is their outside shooting. The Grizzlies struggle from deep as their main rotation guards are average shooters at best. In Meeks, Bazemore, Marshall, Farmar, Johnson, and Kelly, the Lakers have a number of players capable of getting hot in any game. The Lakers don’t have the bodies up front to bang with the Grizzlies, so they must counteract that by winning the battle behind the arc. The three-pointer is the great neutralizer in the NBA and the Lakers must take advantage of it.
Rebounding Battle: In terms of pure numbers, the Lakers and Grizzlies average around the same number of rebounds. The difference between the two teams, however, is pace. The Lakers give up more rebounds than any team in the NBA, and a team like the Grizzlies will take advantage of that if the Lakers allow it. It will be imperative for the Lakers to put a body on everyone, as not only are Gasol and Randolph excellent rebounders, but their backups, Kosta Koufos and James Johnson can corral their share of boards as well. The Lakers need to figure out a way to at least match the Grizzlies on the boards. If Memphis out-rebounds the Lakers by 10 or more, the Lakers will lose.
Los Angeles Lakers (19-38) at Memphis Grizzlies (31-24)
5:00 PM PST, February 26, 2014
FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Grizzlies Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Mike Conley
SG: Courtney Lee
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol
Key Reserves: SG: Tony Allen SF: Mike Miller PG: Nick Calathes PF: James Johnson
Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Wesley Johnson
C: Pau Gasol
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