Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  March 22, 2007

I’m happy Memphis is so bad. For purely selfish reasons, I’m glad they picked this season to go from the playoffs to the worst team in the NBA — it means I may get a close-up look at Durant or Oden. Memphis is one of two teams (the Lakers the other) already committed to the 2007 Summer Pro League in Long Beach. They also are going to have a lot of ping-pong balls in the draft lottery hopper. So the chances are good I should get to see one of the two up close at the Pyramid come July.

And maybe Kobe will swing by the Pyramid and talk to Durant. For the first time.

The Lakers miss the synthetic ball.
Injuries, sminjuries. The ball is the problem. (Good work Nate and Goo.)

Offense shouldn’t be a problem.
The Lakers should be able to score plenty tonight — Memphis is the worst defensive team in the NBA. They give up 109.3 points per 100 possessions, and as bad as we think (or know) the Lakers are defensively this season the Griz are 4 points worse per 100 possessions. They allow teams to shoot 52% (eFG%) against them. They don’t defend any position on the floor well. Or look at it this way: last meeting between these two teams the Lakers put up 118 points, without Lamar Odom.

This is one team Kobe could get 50 on fairly easily, but it’s also a team where he may not have to.

But will the Lakers play any defense? The Lakers lost that last meeting because they let the new up-tempo Grizzlies score 128. Seven Memphis players scored in double digits, led by Mike Miller and Pau Gasol with 25. As a team Memphis shot 53% in that game and took control in the third quarter never to look back.

In the last two Laker wins, they have done it in spite of allowing opponents to average 122 points per 100 possessions. Think about that — the Griz are last in the NBA this season at 109. The Lakers need to shore up the defense starting tonight and stop counting on Kobe to bail them out with offensive fireworks.

Other Grizzlies to watch. Outside of Gasol and Miller there are really only a few Griz playing well this season — super rookie Rudy Gay (who has moved into the starting lineup), Hakim Warrick and, on offense at least, Chucky Atkins. Now, they are all starters, after them the drop off is pretty dramatic.

No Brian Cook. His ankle isn’t right, so he will sit. Because if every Laker was healthy at the same time it would be the seventh sign of the apocalypse.

Things to look for: Odom had 21 against the Griz earlier in the season, but was injured for the last game. Look for him to bounce back. He also should get plenty of minutes with Cook out.

Defense is a team thing, but a couple things we should hope to see: 1) Don’t let Miller shoot uncontested threes, he is pretty mediocre from the midrange but deadly from the three, in the last 10 games shooing 34.7% from three (40% for the season); 2) There isn’t a lot of spots to push Gasol to where he can’t score and he’s hot lately shooting 55.6% in the last 10 games, but he shoots a lower percentage from the right block/baseline side than the left.

This should be a night the Laker bench, the depth that was so key earlier in the season, starts to make resurgence.

It would be nice to get an early lead and get some key guys rest with another game tomorrow. But a win is the key.

to Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. The only answer the Grizz have for Kobe is to send Mike Miller after him again. When someone is shooting 70% (eFG%) and getting to the line 13 times per game, who in the league has an answer for that?


  2. I’m looking to see Kobe attack early and often as necessary, and be able to sit out the fourth quarter. I’m happy beyond words to see we’ve abandoned the “get everyone else involved early, then let Kobe take over in the 4th” strategy. That just allowed teams to stay close who we could otherwise pull away from.

    10-5 starts here.


  3. Kurt,
    I just went to the TrueHoops page and voted for us. The poll said that we are leading the way at 28%. To tell you the truth, those other offers aren’t nearly as good as ours. Golden State is offering Patrick O’Bryant, Adonal Foyle, and Al Harrington… are they serious with that?


  4. Is there any question that KB24 is the best in league?


  5. Jones, there should be no question. But people being what they are, there is. Foolishness. There is no one in the league who could do what Kobe just did. That guy is just ridiculous.


  6. Beyond Kobes obvious offensive brilliance, I was also very impressed with Lamar’s box score.

    But what is with giving up 120 pts to Memphis? Really unacceptable.


  7. nate, short answer-no question.

    my question, does he get suspended?


  8. Oh for the love of TODD!

    So help me if THAT gets him suspended.


  9. I find it hard to think Kobe would get suspended for that, Jones was running at him, Kobe put his arm up to create some space but the elbow looked inadvertent. I’ve got no problem with the foul, but you can’t really suspend him for that.

    Well, maybe I overestimate Stu.

    Here’s the video:


  10. chris henderson March 23, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Way too obvious that this was acting on Dante’s part, and if the league suspends for this, there’s no question the witch hunt is on, and it’s time for some serious boycotting or something.
    I hope the league brass is smarter than that, they’ve got to be able to recognize a bit of acting, as it happens all the time in the league.


  11. If they even think of suspending him, it will show how idiotic they are. Last weekend I made the point that it was a mistake to even suspend him for the first Ginobili elbow in the first place because all it did was put even more of a microscope on Kobe and the league.

    Here’s a snipet:

    “When the first elbow against Ginobili occurred there was no foul and no mention by the broadcasters of the game that they could see a fine or suspension coming. The next day on ESPN there weren’t any whispers of a possible Bryant suspension. Then out of nowhere this suspension comes down. Because the NBA went out of their way to publicly recognize and reprimand a play that wasn’t even called a foul in the game and certainly wouldn’t have been an act worthy of a suspension in the 80s or the 90s, the media was ready to attack on the next similar play that Kobe made.”

    I go into much more detail about the problems the NBA has with its tv contract, marketing, PR, and branding here:


  12. A few of us Smushaphobes saw this as a
    mano-a-mano showdown between the former and current point guards for the Lakers: Chucky “Ole” Atkins, and Smush “Turnstyle” Parker. Chucky won the shootout, 16-6.


  13. A few things:

    1) Kobe is amazing. He is one of the best players to ever play the game (somewhere in the top 5). Some people may not want to believe it, but his career speaks for itself.

    2) The Lakers don’t play defense. This is a real problem.

    3) Lastly, there are three legitimate NBA starters on the Lakers: Kobe, Lamar, Luke (coincidentally, the only guys in double figures last night). Consequently, every night it’s 3 against 5. And remember, two of them were injured for a long time this season. Odom and Luke are great passers, and make the players around them better, but they are also aggressive enough to create their own shots. Two more Lakers have to show enough aggressiveness to do the same, and then they got get off their behinds and play some defense at the other end of the court.


  14. That really is a case of someone running into his elbow. I can see how the refs could have called a foul. But watching it on replay, Kobe already had his elbow out and Dante runs into it.

    Kobe is the best roadshow the NBA has going right now. He makes it look so easy.


  15. That 24 guy is pretty good


  16. we needed 60 points from kobe to win by two…

    the win is great, Kobe is great but something just doesn’t seem right


  17. I’m thinking this might actually be a bit of strategy for the Lakers being imployed at the moment. Make Kobe as lethal a scoring threat as possible so that come playoff time whatever team matches up will do exactly one poster said above, quadruple team Kobe. I mean, if teams get suckered into believing one man has the possibility of beating them it will put them at a disadvantage guarding anyone else because they’ll probably consider them inferior or something.

    Just a thought.


  18. Has anyome ever scored 50+ in four straight games?


  19. 19-
    Yes, Wilt the Stilt did it 7 straight games once and then 5 straight games another time.


  20. 19- Wilt did it 7 times and 5 times.

    in general, any NBA question that starts with “Has anybody ever…” can probably be answered with “Yes. Wilt.”

    One day, somebody’s going to do something that Wilt never did, and THEN things are going to get interesting. I sure hope that somebody is Kobe.


  21. “Has anyome ever scored 50+ in four straight games?”

    Do you even have to ask? Wilt. He did it two separate times. 5 straight and 7 straight.


  22. Heard an interesting debate about comparing Kobe to Wilt in individual ability and Michael Jordan to Bill Russell in terms of winning/team play.

    Kobe, again, carries that chip on his shoulder, no matter how brilliant he plays. Unless he wins it all (guess 3 champs is not enough), it’ll never be sufficient in the media’s viewpoint unless he does one better than Jordan.

    Is it me, or has Kobe been nothing but a clutch performer in his NBA career? Kobe is only 28. That is the same age that Jordan finally “became” that overall package and all-around winner.

    Kobe has another 10 years in him barring major injury or assassination. Let’s view his career at that point, shall we?
    This is something to watch, no matter how you look at it.


  23. The funny part is when ESPN runs its stats on Most X by a Player Not Named Wilt.

    Cary, I don’t know if Kobe is really clutch. It’s very hard to say, because he gets double and triple teams at the end of games more than probably any other player on any other team. I made this same point on Usenet: Remember that KG buzzer beater a couple of months ago that was the highlight of the night? It was an 18-footer from the left side free throw line extended.

    As I recall, he was single teamed (or at most a weak double team). Does that *ever* happen to Kobe? So even though his last-minute shooting percentage is on the low end, compared to the rest of the NBA, I’m not sure you can draw a lot from that, because the defense against the Lakers is so obvious at the end of the game. He does make some remarkable shots, that’s for sure–but he takes a lot of them, too.

    Another point I made on Usenet: The Lakers this season, as a whole, have been remarkably unclutch. They have squandered late leads more often than they have took them away from others. This recent game against Portland and that January (?) game against Sacramento were the only two times I can remember them making the shots late in the game, and in the Sacramento game, they gave up a lead to put themselves in that situation.