Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Lakers
When: 7:00 pm CST
Where: The Grindhouse (aka FedEx Forum), Hoop City (aka Memphis, TN)
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (24-16), Los Angeles Lakers (25-16)
Predicted Starting Lineups:
Memphis Grizzlies – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Los Angeles Lakers – Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Is Memphis getting back their all-star power forward the same day they may lose their leading scoring SF? Rudy Gay is questionable for tonight’s game after catching an elbow from Nene and suffering a mild concussion. Zach Randolph, last season’s team MVP and playoff hero, could rejoin the team tonight after recovering from a partially torn MCL.
Memphis has been among the hottest teams in the NBA since the All-Star break losing only one game (at Phoenix) and has now moved into 4th place in the tough Western Conference. The Grizzlies have been winning games using a total team effort going 8 men deep. That depth could be called into question against the Lakers with Rudy Gay possibly out, Z-Bo still not ready for full minutes and Marc Gasol and Mike Conley showing signs of fatigue from their heavy use this season.
O J Mayo stepped up big in Denver with a 22 point, 7 assist effort to help save the Grizzlies. Mayo’s effort combined with Quincy Pondexter, Dante Cunningham and Hamed Haddadi overshadowed poor performances from the starting five. In fact the bench has been one of the main factors in the Grizzlies recent hot streak.
Los Angeles has been strong at the Staples Center (18-2) but struggled away from home this season (7-14). The Lakers still have a solid Kobe Bryant, the league scoring leader, but Pau Gasol has been bothered all season by trade rumors and hasn’t been as effective as he was during their championship years. In fact Andrew Bynum has stepped up when Gasol has struggled and become the Lakers 2nd option in closing situations.
The Lakers twin 7 foot centers can’t offset the effects of time however. Fisher and Kobe are the oldest starting back-court in the NBA and Fisher especially is showing the effects of age. Metta World Peace, the former Ron Artest, is still capable of playing big in big games but has been noticeably absent on most nights. The Lakers bench has been spotty as well as the team tries to adjust to a new head coach without the normal preseason to work things out.
Prediction: A tough game but one the Grizzlies need more. Grizzlies win to take over 3rd place in the conference.