Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  March 27, 2007

Looking back at Elgin Baylor. I think a lot of younger fans have no idea that the guy who is now the Clipper GM is really one of the all-time great offensive forces, a guy whose game paved the way for Jordan, Kobe and many more. Thanks to a find by one of my favorite bloggers, Bethlehem Shoals, you can catch the highlight video of when Baylor dropped 61 on the Celtics in the NBA finals. Watch his game — defenders fear his drives to the basket so they play back, and he just elevates and hits the jumper over them. Sound familiar?

Déjà vu. Didn’t we just see the Lakers take on Memphis…. ah, yes, I remember. I remember that Kobe scored 60, the Lakers torched the worst defense in the league for 121 points, and they still only won by 2.

Two keys from that game. First, the Lakers got good play from their bench — Kobe and Odom were paired with Bynum, Sasha and Shammond for the little run the Lakers made at the start of the fourth quarter to cement the lead they never relinquished (but boy did they try). Not so coincidentally, those were the only Lakers in the positive for +/- for the game (for the new people to this site, +/- is how the team does while a player is on the floor; for example if you play just 10 minutes but your team outscores the opponent by five in that stretch, you are +5). The Lakers should get another good night from their subs.

Second, the Lakers played terrible defense — as a team Memphis shot 60% (eFG%), they shot 36.4% from three. Of particular trouble were Pau Gasol (35 points on 17 of 23 shooting) and Mike Miller (33 points and 6 of 8 from three). But the Lakers wanted to be fair so they played bad defense against everyone.

Two things to see if the Lakers carry over from Sunday. First is defense, the Lakers only played it in flashes in the win against Golden State but that was an improvement. Will they build on that, or is the Pau Gasol show back in town? Remember, the Lakers have given up 100 points or more for 10 straight games.

Second, as the Warriors did Sunday, look for Memphis to try to deny Kobe the ball and run doubles and triples at him. He’ll give the ball up if other guys hit the shots, will Odom/Walton/anyone step up again to that challenge as they did Sunday?