On Tap: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  February 11, 2006

Record: 26-23 (21-28 Pythagorean), 7th seed in the West (tied for 6th)
Record last 10 games: 2-8 (lost five straight)
Laker record against Grizzlies: 1-2
Offensive Rating: 105.1 (21st in league)
Defensive Rating: 103.1 (3rd in league)

Where does Kobe get his points: Last time the Lakers played the Griz, Kobe had 45 points, almost 10 more than his current per-game average. But where is he getting those points on the floor? Well, 82games.com has broken it down (and for all the top players).

He gets an average of 13.7 points (39% of his points) on 2-point jump shots. Another 9.4 points come from the free throw line (a whopping 26%, and the highest number in the league). He also gets 6.1 per game on three point shots and 6.3 on dunks and lay-ups.

Why tonight’s game really matters: From the sixth seed Grizzlies/Hornets (a tie) to the 12th seeded Kings, the teams are separated by just 4.5 games in the Western Conference. That’s seven teams with a shot at one of the three bottom playoff spots in the West. If you want to get one of the three, you need to beat the teams fighting with you for those spots. (Same thing with the game Monday against Utah).

The Lakers coming in: I think all us Laker fans are trying to repress the recent road trip save their best game in a while, the win in Houston. That included a good game from Kwame Brown, something they are going to need against the powerful inside game of the Griz.

The last time these two met was a game we’d all like to have wiped from our mind like Kate Winslet — remember that Memphis never led in regulation but won in overtime. Paul Gasol had 24 but it was Damon Stoudamire’s 25 that was the kick in the gut (he will not play due to injury).

Some good news, the Lakers said they are hopeful Chris Mihm will play tonight.

About the Grizzlies: Let’s start with them as a team, and it’s really pretty simple — great defense, far from great on offense. This is a team that statistically has played over its head for most of the season, winning in spite of its offense, and now things are starting to catch up with them.

That said, Pau “Serpico” Gasol deserves to be All Star, he is one of the best big men in the game. By the way, he averages 19.6 points per game and (as per the way Kobe’s points were broken down above) he gets about 9 of those a game in close to the basket and another 5.5 from the line.

The guys who don’t get enough credit are Shane Battier, Eddie Jones and Mike Miller. This can be a balanced team, when healthy. They just aren’t healthy right now.

Key’s to a Laker win: Run them out of the building — Memphis likes to play at the slowest pace in the league (85.8 possessions per game, 5 less than the Lakers) and this is their second game in as many nights. There are fast break points to be had.

Last night, the Griz started Chucky Atkins over Bobby Jackson. We can only hope they do that again. Also, shooting guard Mike Miller missed the game with a sprained ankle, if he doesn’t play that’s another break for the Lakers.

Gasol will get his, the Lakers need to make sure that Battier or the always dangerous Eddie Jones don’ have a huge game. This is one where the Lakers can build a lead early and blow them out late.

That is, depending on what Laker team shows up.