The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to build some momentum, looking for their fourth win in five games as they head to Memphis to face the Grizzlies. The Lakers got their first win of this season against the Grizzlies back in October, but Memphis, of course, is now without star point guard Ja Morant due to a knee injury.
That hasn’t stopped Memphis from succeeding, however, as the Grizzlies had won five straight games including an NBA-record 73 point victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder before falling to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.
The Lakers are coming off what LeBron James is calling possibly the team’s best performance of the season against the Boston Celtics. One of the biggest reasons was because of the Lakers’ domination in the paint as they scored 66 points inside and that will be crucial against Memphis as well.
The Grizzlies rank first in the NBA in points in the paint and second-chance points and rank second in offensive rebound percentage, something that has been an issue for the Lakers throughout this season. Memphis also forces the most steals in the NBA and are second in fast-break points so they are well equipped to take advantage of areas of weakness for the Lakers.
One positive for the Lakers recently has been the play of Russell Westbrook, who is averaging 22.2 points, 9.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 53.2% from the field over the last five games.
James has been himself any time he’s been on the court, but the key on this night could be Anthony Davis.
The Grizzlies boast a talented and physical frontcourt led by Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams. Whichever team controls the paint could be the one who comes out victorious and with Davis coming off a self-admitted subpar performance, he should be looking to make up for it in this one.
Neither team is known as a huge 3-point shooting team but both have players who can get hot. Carmelo Anthony was the major reason the Lakers got the victory in the first meeting while Wayne Ellington and Malik Monk have had strong performances as well.
Memphis has the likes of Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton, whom the Lakers can’t allow to get hot or it will be a long night. They are without Dillon Brooks though, however, after he was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols shortly before the game.
Defense is what Frank Vogel has been preaching and when the Lakers have locked in on that end of the floor, they have been tough to beat. The Grizzlies don’t have that big star to shut down but do have a number of talented players and if the Lakers come out sluggish Memphis will make them pay.
Lakers (13-12) vs. Grizzlies (14-11)
5:00 p.m. PT, December 9, 2021
FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Talen Horton-Tucker
PF: LeBron James
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Austin Reaves
Projected Grizzlies Starting Lineup:
PG: Tyus Jones
SG: Desmond Bane
SF: De’Anthony Melton
PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.
C: Steven Adams
Key Reserves: Killian Tillie, Xavier Tillman, John Konchar
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