When: Tuesday, December 17th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Things are not well in Grizzlyville these days. they’ve dropped their last three, and stand at 10-13, well out of the top 8 in the West. The plan of staying at .500 until Marc comes back has gone off the rails a bit. The Grizzlies will try to get back on track against a Lakers team who is still adjusting to having #24 back in the lineup.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Jerryd Bayless vs Jodie Meeks
Both teams are banged up at this position, with both Mike Conley and Steve Nash missing the game. In his time with the Grizzlies, Bayless has played both the 1 and 2, and he’s felt more comfortable at the two but necessity takes precedent here. He’s a solid scorer, and could help the offense get going early if he shot is working. Meeks also fluctuates between the 1 and the 2, and during his time with the Sixers, he was effective as the team’s fourth guard. This is a difficult matchup to predict; since it will mostly come down who does a better job adjusting to being in the starting lineup.
Tony Allen vs Kobe Bryant
Tony has been known for playing effective defense on Kobe in the past, including a memorable Sunday night game where he held him to five first half points. Kobe tends to force his way into the shot he wants to take, and Allen is beter than anyone else at preventing him from getting there. When you consider how slow Kobe has looked since his return to the lineup, the chances of Allen rendering Kobe ineffective tonight become even higher. Its hard not to get the feeling that Kobe is about to have his “k, now I’mback” game, where he explodes for 40, but it’s hard to picture him doing it against the Grindfather.
Advantage: Los Angeles in theory, Memphis in practice
Tayshaun Prince vs Wesley Johnson
Can i just write “meh” here? I mean, do you really need more analysis than that? it’s not like we don’t already know what a dreadfully boring matchup this is, why sugarcoat it? Okay fine, I guess we can talk about the emergence of Johnson as a legitimate rotation piece. After washing out in Minnesota and Phoenix, Johnson ws a surprisingly strong pickup for the Lakers, providing energy and three-point shooting. Sadly, Prince’s career has been going in the opposite direction, as his points per game sits below seven at the moment. It feels weird giving the nod to what really like a failed lottery pick over a 12-year veteran who started for a championship team, but that’s where we are these days.
Zach Randolph vs Pau Gasol
Arguably the two greatest Grizzlies of the time – or two of the top three depending on where you’d put Marc – this matchup features two 13-year vets who have spent the year fighting off the signs of aging. Pau Gasol’s shooting is way down, likely because he is no longer the menace near the basket that he was three or four years ago. rather, he’s settling for more jumpers, and a lot of the time they aren’t falling for him. Z-Bo put p a 20 and 10 against the Wolves, but night in, and night out, we aren’t sure what he’s going to do. The rebounding has been consistent, but the scoring tends to fluctuate. Still, he’s having a slightly better year than Pau this year, and his post game seems to be holding up a little better.
Kosta Koufos vs Robert Sacre
Sacre was a punchlne throughout his rookie season for reasons that weren’t really his fault. For a team trying to establish Dwight Howard as the center of the future – ha! – it was disconcerting to see an undrafted free agent getting so many minutes at the 5. But with Chris Kaman injured, the Lakers have turned to Sacre as their starting center, and he’s been more effective than many would have thought, proving that he a solid rotation piece. As with Johnson and Henry, he’s surprised the league and proved he belongs in the NBA, while also keeping the Lakers afloat while Kobe was gone. With that said, I think matchup favors Koufos because of his height advantage – he’s already a great rebounder, and his size will give him the inside track on the boards tonight.
How about that Jon Leuer, huh? I mean, if we can only take one positive from this season – and really, that might be about all – it’s that Leuer, who figured to be a throwaway piece in a trade designed purely to dump salary – has actually been one of their biggest contributors this year. Beyond that, it’s been brutal, with QPon getting benched before going down for the season, while Ed Davis has flashes of brilliance mixed with profoundly frustrating performances. As for the Lakers, the production they’ve gotten out of Jordan Farmar, and Xavier Henry has been astonishing. Wes Johnson was a bench piece before getting promoted to the starting five, while Nick Swaggy P” Young still won’t win any efficiency awards, but has contributed to significantly with his energy off the bench. There’s no way around it – the Lakers have one of the most exciting second units in the NBA.
Advantage: Los Angeles