Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Los Angeles Lakers
When: Friday, November 23, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (8-2), Los Angeles (6-6)
Media: SportSouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Board
Memphis survived one of the most difficult weeks any NBA team will face this season going 4-0 against the Heat, Thunder, Knicks and Bobcats only to see their 8 game winning streak, and 13 game home regular season win streak, come to an end against Denver Monday night. Blame fatigue, emotional letdown, the refs or the stars, the bottom line is that the Grizzlies were out hustled on their home court. Zach Randolph continued his stellar play with his 10th consecutive double-double but wasn’t as sharp on offensive as usual. Marc Gasol’s 16 points and 5 assists were nice but the team gave up 21 offensive rebounds and was out-rebounded overall by 14. The Grizzlies will be well rested for the Lakers game after the Thanksgiving holiday and now the Grizzlies are finally at 100% health with the return of Darrell Arthur.
Los Angeles has made taken up the idea of media drama to a new level. It’s almost like a reality TV show in Laker-land this year. Perhaps it is always that way but this season the Lakers have taken drama to a new level. First it was the off-season acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard and the simultaneous departure of Andrew Bynum as the Lakers felt they were building a team that could challenge the Thunder and Heat for NBA supremacy. Then Head Coach Mike Brown was fired after the 1-4 start and Mike D’Antoni, formerly of the New York Knicks, was brought in. The Lakers at 6-2 since the move and 1-1 in the D’Antoni era. The Lakers will be looking to get back on track after their rough start with a win on the road in Memphis, but the Lakers haven’t won a road game all season.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Darius Morris:
The Lakers are hoping to have Steve Nash back for this game. Morris has been a deadly outside shooter hitting 5 f 11 3’s in his last 5 games. That fits in perfectly with D’Antoni’s up-tempo style but Morris is not Steve Nash. In fact, when Steve Blake returns from his injury expect Morris to go back to 3rd string. Mike Conley has been playing exceptional ball this season and has clearly established himself as the teams on court leader. This should be a big advantage for the Grizzlies if Nash doesn’t come back and possibly a big one even if he does.
Tony Allen vs Kobe Bryant:
Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire after the 2013-14 season. Since he’s only averaging 26.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 5.4 APG you can clearly understand why he feels it is getting close to time to leave the league, right? Maybe it’s his 52.8% FG shooting or 40.5% from the arc. Kobe is as good as ever and with a starting unit that includes three other Hall of Fame candidates I can’t imagine Kobe leaving the game anytime soon but he has made enough money. Speaking of money, someone needs to inform Tony Allen that he will get paid more if he shoots less. Tony is in the final year of his contract with the Grizzlies and so far has demonstrated why he isn’t a better paid player. Elite perimeter defense doesn’t always mean a great offensive player after all. If Allen focuses on stopping Kobe and leaves the offense mainly for others he will hold his own. If not things could be messy.
Advantage: Los Angeles
Rudy Gay vs Metta World Peace:
Rudy Gay has had as difficult a stretch of games as can be had in the NBA and no one deserves the break more than he. After facing LeBron, Durant and Carmello, holding his own with all three superstars, Rudy has slipped in the last two games including the costly turnover in the final minute of the game. Rudy doesn’t have to star for the Grizzlies but he does need to take advantage of mismatches and he has an advantage tonight. MWP is a joke of a name but don’t tell Artest, I mean Peace, that. He’s just crazy enough to get hot if you do.
Zach Randolph vs Pau Gasol:
The two greatest PF’s in Grizzlies history (that includes Shareef Abdur Rahim) face off against one another in what could be an epic battle. Z-Bo and Gasol always seem to have epic battles as neither player has shown the ability to stop the other. Gasol has struggled this season averaging only 14.3 PPG and 9.4 RPG. Randolph has seemed completely healed from last season’s knee injury and has put up 10 straight double-doubles and is averaging 16.7 PPG and 13.8 RPG. Gasol’s major advantage is Dwight Howard backing him up and his knowledge of younger brother Marc’s game. If Pau struggles with Randolph don’t be surprised to see the Lakers switch defenders to cover for Pau.
Marc Gasol vs Dwight Howard:
In my humble opinion these are the two best centers in the league. Marc Gasol is more cerebral (similar to a young Arvidas Sarbonis according to some) and Dwight Howard is more physical (a younger Shaq with the terrible free throw shooting that goes with such an analogy). Howard hasn’t made the immediate impact on offense that people have expected including a poor performance in Sacramento Wednesday night. Gasol has been up and down scoring the ball but his passing has him in rare company this season and has shown an ability to get big baskets when needed.
Advantage: Los Angeles
Los Angeles used to have one of the best benches in the NBA. Not so anymore. With the acquisition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Lakers have had to make cuts on their bench to facilitate their starting five. GOne are Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts and Ramon Sessions. In their place the Lakers have Antwan Jamison, who is an accomplished player but at 36 isn’t the threat he once was. With the injuries to Nash and Blake the Lakers are extremely thin at PG. Memphis’ bench has improved dramatically since last season. Jerryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington are the new faces and the improvement of Maurice Speights and Quincy Pondexter thanks to a season with the team including a full training camp with the team have given the Grizzlies players that have helped replace the loss of O J Mayo. Darrell Arthur is expected to return tonight and he brings more athleticism and energy off the bench as well.