Who: Memphis Grizzlies (47-32) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (25-54)
When: Sunday, April 13th 9:00 PM CST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Watch and Listen: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB on Twitter / 3SOB Forum, Grizzlies Message Board
One of the most depressing seasons in Lakers history is finally coming to an end, but not before the Grizzlies head to Staples Center in search of a much-needed win. After taking care of business against the Sixers, while the Suns blew a 15-point halftime lead against the Spurs (something Grizz fans are all-too-familiar with), which means the Grizzlies are now tied for 8th in the West, and in control of their own destiny. But the Grizzlies can’t look ahead to next week’s showdowns with Phoenix and Dallas, because for all the problems this Lakers team has, they are determined bunch, and would ove to play the role of the spoiler.
Mike Conley vs Kendall Marshall
Marshall has been rare bright spot for the Lakers this season. After washing out after a year n Phoenix, he has emerged as an excellent passer, and a solid three-point shooter. Admittedly, he has still has some glaring flaws in his game (dude can’t play defense at all, but he has a ton of potential, and working with Steve Nash next season should be a fantastic opportunity for him. Meanwhile, Conley had a brilliant game against Miami, and reminded us one more time what a fanastic leader he’s becoming. At this point, Conley is one of the best point guards in the league, and the kind of player whom the Lakers can only hope Marshall will develop into.
Advantage: Memphis, but probably won’t look it on paper
Courtney Lee vs Jodie Meeks
Meeks is having the best season of his career by far. After years as a solid role player with the Sixers, Meeks has filled a huge void with Kobe Bryant gone this season, and could get series looks from other teams in the offseason. As for Courtney Lee, I still haven’t gotten over that ridiculous 3 he made at the end of the third quarter against Miami. It wasn’t quite as magical as Quincy’s heroics against Oklahoma City last May, but it was certainly close. Lee has been inconsistent over the past few months, but he can be pretty dangerous when he’s on his game and it would not be much of a shock if he swung a few games in the playoffs.
James Johnson Vs. Wesley Johnson
So far, Johnson has done a fine job of filling in for the injured Tayshaun Prince, and his marvelous athleticism has been on display a few times. These next three games – and hopefully the playoffs – will serve as a great chance for the Grizzlies front office to explore his potential, and determine if they want him to be part of the team for the long-term. Wesley Johnson, much like his counterpart, is a player who was more or less cast aside after a poor 2012-13, but has found new life, and his playing the best basketball of his career. Granted, it’s difficult to be super excited about contributing to this particular team, but Johnson has emerged as a quality three-point shooter, and a solid rotation guy.
Zach Randolph vs Jordan Hill
There’s a fairly solid case to be made that Jordan Hill has actually been the Lakers’ best player this season. Granted, that says way more about the dreadful season this team has suffered through that it does about Hill, but still, it’s worth noting that a player once considered to be a bust has emerged has a hyper-efficient bench big man, not too far off from Brandan Wright. As for Z-Bo, after his monster game against the Heat, it was a bit disorienting to watch him struggle against the lowly Sixers, but naturally the Grizzlies were up by so much that it didn’t really matter. Look for Z-Bo to thrie against the undersized Hill, as the Grzzlies capitalize on inuries to Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman.
Marc Gasol vs Ryan Kelly
If you’re looking for silver linings for this Lakers team – and there actually are a few – you could do worse than Ryan Kelly, a late-second round pick who has stunned many by becoming a rotation player for the Lakers as a rookie. Granted, some of his playing time was given out of necessity, but he has legitimately proven himself to be a solid stretch 4, and should be a key part of the Lakers rotation going forward. Granted, he’s severely over-matched tonight against the mighty Big Spain, who is fresh off brilliant games against the heat and Sixers, but Kelly deserves some serious credit for greatly exceeding expectations.
If the Lakers weren’t o terrible, Nick Young would probably be getting some Sixth Man of The Year talk. Seriously, he’s having the best season of his career, and even if his flaws are always going to be pretty glaring, he’s definitely a solid scorer and could probably shine if given an opportunity on the right (would Miami be interested if Ray Allen retires?). After that, the pickings are pretty slim for the Lakers bench. Robert Sacre is decent, and has had few solid moments, while MarShon brooks is still a decent volume scorer when he gets minutes. Mike Miler had a big night against the Sixers, ending a brief slump. Not too much else to say here – big edge for the Grizzlies, because the Lakers are the most beat-up team in the league.
* denotes last night’s game not included.