On Tap: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  December 28, 2005

Record: 16-10 (Pythagorean 12-14), 5th seed in the West
Record last 10 games: 6-4
Record Against Lakers this season: 1-1
Offensive Rating: (105.1, 18th in league)
Defensive Rating: (101, 4th in league)

About the Grizzlies: The last time these two hooked up was the final game of the Lakers 5-1 road trip, and LA won handily, 94-79.

You will hear tonight that Memphis gives up the fewest points per game in the league, but they do that in part because they play at the slowest pace in the league (86.1 possessions per game). That’s not to say they are not a good defensive team, they are fourth in the league in efficency. Teams only shoot 45.4% (eFG%) against them, and Memphis is second in the league in creating turnovers, on 18.6% of opponents’ possessions.

Looking at the stats at 82games.com, Memphis is especially good at perimeter defense, the Lakers need to get some points inside tonight.

One thing I hope to see tonight: The Lakers shoot like they did last time these two hooked up — 57.4% as a team. Take Kobe out of the equation and everyone else still shot 52.8%.

The Lakers coming in: Kobe and Phil — and likely the rest of the Lakers — were frustrated with the loss in Washington. Other Lakers missed key shots late, but Kobe took 27 shots while shooting 40.7% while everyone else shot 51.1% for the game. Other guys need to step up and hit key shots late, but Kobe has to get the ball to teammates when they are shooting well. The Laker execution of the offense fell apart in the second half.

Key’s to a Laker win: It’s going to be a slow down, low scoring game, meaning efficiency with possessions will be at a premium. The Lakers need to take care of the ball, not turn it over, and make shots when they get good looks. Also, last time these two played the Lakers did a good job on Gasol (10 points on 4 of 11 shooting) while Mike Miller had a big game (21 points). You’d rather let Miller beat you — the Lakers need to keep Gasol from having a big night. Finally, the Lakers need to keep Eddie Jones and Damon Stoudamire in check, both can get hot and fill it up for a night.

This is a tough test, a tough game for a team trying not to lose three in a row, but it is one they can win. They just need to play at their best again,