Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Darius Soriano —  November 2, 2010 — 75 Comments

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Records: Lakers 3-0, Grizzlies 2-1
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7, Grizzlies 101.0
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.2, Grizzlies 99.0
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum (out, knee), Luke Walton (doubtful, hamstring); Grizzlies: Zach Randolph (doubtful, back), Xavier Henry (doubtful, strained neck)

The Lakers Coming in:  Based off Phil Jackson’s comments, the Lakers are out of the gates well but have not started out “fast” with their 3-0 start.  Phil wants to see the Lakers win 10+ games to start the season before he says that the team is off to a fast start.  Okay then, I’m glad that is cleared up.

Regardless of what’s said though, the Lakers are off to a good start and are playing quite well so far this year.  A rocky ring night still led to a W and the two games since have been pretty well handled.  The Lakers’ offensive efficiency is strong and they’re coming off a very good defensive performance against the Warriors.  If there were things to complain about I’d mention them, but there really isn’t at this point.

Continuing with what’s going well for the Lakers, Lamar Odom is playing excellent ball right now.  I won’t get into all of the ways that this is the case, but one key is that he’s playing so well within the offense.  Based off the stats at HoopData, Odom has nearly eliminated the mid-range jumpshot from his arsenal.  While he’s still shooting the same number of shots at the rim as in year’s past (about 5 per game), his shots within 10 feet have nearly tripled (3 per game this year vs. 1.1 per game last year) and his shot attempts from 10-23 feet now total less than one per game.  He’s also been more judicious from three point country as he’s lowered his attempts per game from over two to a shade over one.  All of this has led to a more efficient Odom and a player that is a real threat on offense because he’s playing to his strengths more.  I hope to see these trends continue as the season wears on.

The Grizzlies Coming in: The Grizz have made a lot of news in the past day, but unfortunately for them it’s not because of their 2-1 start.  Yesterday, right before the deadline to do so, the Grizzlies decided to extend the contract of Mike Conley for 5 years and $45 million(!) dollars.  This is newsworthy for a lot of reasons but the first two are the fact that A). this makes him wildly overpaid for the quality of player he is and B). there was no need to do this based off the fact that Conley was set to be a RFA after this season.

So now, the Grizz have given a boatload of money to a player that they could have just waited out as restricted free agent next year, let the market determine what he’s worth, and then signed him to a reasonable deal.  Plus, going into a what is sure to be a testy collective bargaining negotiation with the players union, the Grizz (one of the teams that doesn’t do that well financially) has handed out a contract that paints owners as being able to spend what they want on guys.  I mean, are you really hurting financially if you spend $45mil on Mike Conley?  You better believe the union and their agents will be saying that to the owners behind closed doors.

As for on the court matters, the Grizz are playing pretty well right now.  They lost on the road in their opener to a good Hawks team, but have since squeaked by the Mavs and blown out the T’Wolves.  Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo have led the way from a scoring stand point with Marc Gasol averaging a double-double to start the year.  And even though I just ripped his contract, Conley has also been putting up good numbers (15 points, 8 assists).  Plus, while Zach Randolph has been sitting out since falling on his back in the first game, Darrell Arthur has provided some scoring punch at PF.  This is a young team that looks ready to take the next step after a solid run last year.

Grizzlies Blogs: Chip Crain has got you covered over at 3 Shades of Blue.  You can read their game preview here.

Keys to game: Memphis is a team that has given the Lakers some problems over the years.  They’re constructed similarly to the Lakers and thus match up fairly well.  If Zach Randolph can’t go tonight that will surely hurt their chances, but in reality the Grizz are a tough out and discipline will be key.

In the first few games I’ve been asking that the Lakers go inside to Pau as the first option, but tonight I’m going away from that a bit.  I still think that Pau needs his touches, but he faces off against his brother tonight and Marc knows how to defend his big bro.  The younger Gasol really pushes Pau off his sweet spots and the array of jab steps, head fakes, and quick moves don’t seem to surprise the guy who likely served as a guinea pig for these moves growing up.  So, I actually think this is night where Kobe will need to show that he is in fact 100%.  While Mayo has good size and can be a committed defender, he doesn’t have the ability to keep Kobe from establishing position in the post so I hope to see Kobe operate a lot from that position tonight.  Force the Grizz to double team or pay with high percentage shots from #24 from inside fifteen feet.

Earlier I mentioned Odom, and he too can be a difference maker on offense tonight.  Whether it’s a banged up Randolph or Darrell Arthur that gets the start, Odom will have a quickness and length advantage against either player so I hope to see him at his utmost aggressive self tonight.  If Odom can again control the defensive glass and turn those rebounds into fast and secondary breaks for the Lakers it will go a long way towards getting easy buckets for himself and his mates.

Defensively the Lakers are set up well to contain this team.  With a team that’s so reliant on production from their wings to get baskets, the Lakers should be able to disrupt their offensive sets by releasing the kraken Artest, Kobe, and Barnes on Gay and Mayo to limit their production.  These are players that rely a lot on isolation sets to get their baskets and those are the types of actions that play right into the Lakers’ hands defensively.  So if the Lakers wings play discipline by not going for too many steals, playing straight up defense and contesting jumpers, things should work out well.

The other key to this game will be rebounding the ball.  Despite playing two teams that aren’t great at controlling the glass, the Lakers are only +7 on the backboards for the season.  They need to be better than that tonight.  Marc Gasol is a very good offensive rebounder and if Randoph plays their front court becomes beastly on the glass.  Ron will also need to mark Rudy Gay and box him out as he’s done a very good job on the offensive glass  by grabbing over 2 a game.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start time locally on Fox Sports and nationally on NBA TV. Also listen live at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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75 responses to Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. If Coach K is responsible for turning LO into the monster he has been the first three games of the season. I think its time the FO consider wooing him off that little campus in Durham, NC and showing him the bright lights LA has to offer(no offense to B. Shaw) when Phil finally calls it quits.

    P.S. This one’s for Warren

  2. I hope it’s okay to post this, but FYI there are some very good seats available for BELOW FACE for tonight’s game via the Lakers season ticket holders exchange link:

    These tix must be bought either by 3:30 or 4:30 (I think 3:30) and will immediately be emailed to the recipient by the Lakers/ticketmaster.

  3. so we’re looking at the Griz tonight and the Kings tomorrow night (@ sacto)… is one of these a trap game? do the Lakers look past this tough Griz team thinking ahead to tomorrow night? or do they play a tough team for a hard win tonight, and get smoked tomorrow night? (the Kings are 2-1)
    what do you think?
    can we get ’em both?
    it’s early in the season, if this was later in the season, I say we take ’em both, but …
    I’m just askin’

  4. I think our first B2B is a good test. Not necessarily against the quality of the opponent, but more to see our discipline this early. I’d also like to know if the players are going to buy into the “let’s get 10+ in a row for Phil” mentality.

    I’m hedging my bet on this team continuing its focus and winning by double-digits tonight and tomorrow. Intensity and the killer-instinct that lacked all last year will be great to see. No letting the foot off the gas.

  5. Just for safety, someone please put some padding on Bynum’s legs regardless how far from the action he’s sitting.

    I haven’t seen enough of Conley to make a well-founded judgement, but most reports describe him as rather mediocre and well out of the price range he now slides into (Lamar Odom money). He’s still young though and some PGs take a while to develop, Chauncey Billups for example.

    So the worst part might actually be that the Grizzlies make it quite difficult on themselves to extend Mayo and especially Gasol and Randolph, who seemed to play well together.

    Also, instead of drafting Thabeet they could have taken Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison or Ricky Rubio. I’d rather have one of those play on their rookie contract and invest the 8-9mil in a back-up big and some more bench help.

  6. Griz are good team and I expect them to make the playoffs this year. This will be a tough game that the Lakers could easily lose if they take the Grizzlies lightly.

    I’ll be watching to see if Conley is able to run wild as small athletic PG’s are apt to do against us. Defend the rim = winning the game.

  7. Just a quick note, ESPN’s E:60 program that is currently showing will have a segment on Pau Gasol. It looks pretty interesting. If you can get to a television, check it out.

  8. Now I’m sure Grizzlies wanted no part of Bynum when they traded Gasol, but to think that we could’ve had both Gasols on our team…!

    Anyway, this is a trap game for Pau, as nobody really likes to pound their younger brother on national TV, but worse, you don’t want to get beaten by your younger brother; while for Marc, I’m sure he’s giddy as hell, trying to show his older brother how far he’s come along and just excited to play Pau.

  9. sigh, Knicks-Magic being postponed will seriously dampen my destruction of Darius this week in our fantasy league. Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler, and Jameer Nelson are all on my team. Darius has JJ Redick.

  10. 8. Haha, depends on your mentality I suppose, since my brother goes to any lengths to prove that he’s still better despite us pretty much being fully grown.

    Hollinger has been talking up Conley in his last article, so I’ll be interested to see whether Mike lives up to his extension or not. Though I guess we generally aren’t a great litmus test for the whole “PG defense” thing.

  11. Hey Darius just a quick note, I noticed you out Bynum in the starting lineup lol.

    In all seriousness though I expect Conley to try and prove he’s earned this extension by trying to out play Fish. Unfortunately for him last season he only shot 33% FG and averaged 8ppg. Not exactly that great of a stat line. With Randolph most likely out I’m not expecting a close game, we’ll also see how Kobe defends Mayo tonight given that he’s stated his knee is 100%.

  12. #9. Ha! You’re not beating me.

    #11. Rich, by what do you mean? I only see Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. 😉

  13. @ Darius – man I knew I wore glasses for a reason lol.

  14. By the way, just saw an update that Zach Randolph will not play with his sore back. This should allow for the Lakers to more easily control the glass but they’ll still need to work to ensure it actually happens.

  15. Watching a fun Wash-Phi overtime game on league pass. John Wall is impressive. But watching their offense in crunch time reminds me how much I enjoy watching the Lakers. Their spacing and ball movement is on another level, and watching Kobe operate 1-1 is much more impressive than watching Igoudala.

    As for tonight, I always love watching the Gasols go at it. I also want to see Odom keep up his strong overall play, but all those articles praising the Candyman make me worry he is due for a dud.

  16. If you still haven’t heard it yet, Rondo is in NBA 2k11 mode, 16.74 apg in 4 games. SICK.

  17. @16 – Eek. While I know we can beat both Miami and Boston in a seven game series, I’m sure glad we’ll only have to play one of them in the playoffs

  18. Pau Gasol Western Conference Player of the week. Well deserved and keep the excellent work.

  19. Does anyone have a link to watch the game online?

  20. Good movement early. Plus some solid shooting. Can’t ask for more than that.

  21. @ 19 – scroll to the bottom of this site. Two links for the game, though they’re a bit choppy for me.

  22. according to the gamecast, we’re just, uhm, dissecting them.

    how does it look in real-game? is it as lopsided as the score suggests?

  23. We are, but giving up too many 2nd-chance points. Kobe has been unguardable so far.

  24. harold,

    Technically, yes, but the hustle plays are in Memphis’ club.

  25. wow, Lamar’s shot looks really really good. Both at the free throw line and from three.

  26. A little late to the party, Lakers appear to have a decent lead at this point, over 10 points, great.

  27. Kobe & Pau could really just take turns scoring here. Nothing that Memphis has can really stop them. Need to see if the bench holds/extends this in the 2nd quarter.

  28. Kehntangibles thanks so much for the link, I have League pass broadband and it pisses me off so much that they dont show the games on there due to them being on NBA Tv (which I dont have). You’re a lifesaver

  29. I don’t care if Matt Barnes goes 1-of-20, if he’s rebounding like that, to hell with everybody. (half-kidding)

  30. Man, we should trade that Kobe Bryant scrub, he’s stealing precious minutes from Shannon Brown. 🙂

  31. I’m loving Barnes’ hustle.

    And just wondering… should it be Barnes’ or Barnes’s?

  32. A very nice stream for anyone who is interested:

  33. @J-M: I prefer Barnes’, but I have read that it should be Barnes’s. Apparently the only one who avoids the “s” after the apostrophe is Jesus! Strange but true (according to what I read anyhow, which could be completely incorrect!).

    In other news – is Barnes playing backup SF with Ron sliding to PF when the sub is LO off, Barnes on? Or is he playing some undersized PF?

    (Or should we be not worrying about positional things with that particular lineup?)

  34. man barnes is really crashing the boards

  35. Im loving the spirit of the team, their hustling, bench cheering for the players on the floor doing well, it is an all around team effor. Phil has a special group this year thats willing to go out and execute. LA will be scary good as the season progresses and Bynum enters the rotation. Better yet, he can stay out till the post season, no chance of getting hurt, if everyone else continues to play this well. I LOVE LA!

  36. AusPhil: Artest usually guards the other team’s four, if that’s what you’re asking. Offense doesn’t matter nearly as much, considering it’s the triangle.

  37. Sub the starters, they gave up more points in less minutes than the bench.

  38. I would have thrown my tv had Kobe made that 4th three.

  39. Simonoid – That defensive assignment was what I was wondering about. I figured that the offense was taking care of itself due to the nature of the system.

  40. I keep asking myself could this team be any better? Just to let everyone know John Wall will win Rookie of the Year, coming from Kentucky I saw his magic all year long and the guy is putting up insane numbers for a rookie with a crap team. 29 points 13 Assists and 9 steals tonight.

  41. Simonoid – Thanks, I was wondering about the defensive assignments rather than the offense. Cheers.

  42. That was a nice first half by the Lakers- 73 points

  43. @J-M, AusPhil

    From what I know, if it’s a name, you go with the extra ‘s. If it is a plural, you go with just the ‘.

    Yeah, the game is sooo exciting that we’re wasting bandwidth on grammar discussions…

    … Kobe is having a decent shooting night, except the Grizzlies seem to be really good at defending him at the FT line.

  44. jeez louise, six of BarneS’S eight rebounds are offensive rebs. Love his energy

  45. harold – So true. I am enjoying the game, but the grammar has lured me into more discussion!

    Just to add to what I’ve read about it, it’s not JUST for Jesus that the apostrophe gets used by itself. Apparently it’s for all Biblical/historical names. So Moses et. al. get to go without the “apostophe s” as well.

  46. Tried to edit my last post, but was denied the opportunity!

    I’m quietly hoping that Sasha gets more than 5.4 seconds in the 2nd half. And hopefully some minutes with Pau/Kobe. I know Phil preaches to always be ready, and we saw that Sasha could do it in game 7, but it must be incredibly difficult in a blowout like this one to sit for so long and get no run.

  47. I’ve never been a fan of Matt Barnes. After four games, and tonight’s first half, he’s won me over. I’m a fan of Matt Barnes’ play.

    fun with apostrophe’s

    if notifying possession, add an apostrophe and an ‘s’ UNLESS the word or name ends with an ‘s’ then it is simply an apostrophe. ‘s’s’ should never be used

    damn this Laker team is looking fine out the gate

  48. Lakers tenative on the other side of the floor… make that both ends of the floor.

    The Lakers just make you scratch your head every game.

  49. You would rarely say that a timeout was necessary with a 19 point lead, but that one certainly was. Dreadful few minutes of play by the Lakers.

  50. Let’s not see that bad habit resurface… if it is going to, might as well just put in the bench to help them figure out their identity.

  51. You know what stalled the Lakers offense? Derek Fisher. Derek should have taken that shot, instead he waits for the defender to come and dribble for nothing.

    See, Derek? That’s what happens when you just shoot and not dribble.

  52. Barnes hasn’t got his shot today, but he is ALL OVER the boards. Gotta love that.

    Gotta not love how we seem to go away from what has worked earlier in the game. I know it’s early in the season, still working out the best way to play together etc., but it certainly has the ability to frustrate us as fans!

  53. Wow, Lakers completely bobbled two possessions in a row. Ugly quarter.

  54. It’s not us being tentative, it’s just us being sloppy. This is when, I think, you put in the 2nd unit. For two main reasons – it rests the starters in a game where they frankly should be resting and the 2nd unit has rookies who are wanting to earn playing time, so they actually have something to play for besides nursing a 20+ pt lead.

  55. kehntangibles – I think you’re right. The starters don’t seem as switched on as they should be, a lot of sloppy turnovers and non-intense defense. Give Ebanks, Character etc. the chance to play some meaningful minutes. Leave 1 or 2 starters in for balance if necessary.

    On another note – Shannon clearly wants to be the modern-day Downtown Brown! His stroke from 3 is very pure thus far this season!

  56. What has Shannon been drinking during the off season? Minerals?

    His 3 pt shooting is insane.

  57. Nice way to end the 3rd. Now if we could keep it at 25-30 before the 8:00 minute mark of the last quarter, then the starters would need not come back. That would be great.

    There’s the lead, no starters no more, please.

    Harold and AusPhil, I dig. It’s been water like Curry’s. Darn.

  58. All of a sudden everybody can shoot (come on RonRon). This is fun to watch.

  59. Now I know Barnes has had to deal with less minutes since coming here, but if he churns per minute stats like he does now, I’m not sure if he’ll mind.

    And, uhm, can we try Caracter in place of Theo?

  60. I might just have to go Aaron on Theo this season.

  61. Sasha must be really buried deep seeing how Shannon gets away with all this sloppiness without getting benched.

    I feel for him, but then again PJ really must want this lineup to work for us…

  62. Without Drew our big rotation is pretty iffy. We either have to play Pau and LO big minutes or go with the Mineral Man (Ratliff has been iffy at best), or DC, who’s a rookie and too small to be playing C IMO.

    Backcourt/wing subs have impressed for the most part through four games though.

    Need to get me one of those “Matt Barnes will kill you” t-shirts.

  63. In honor of the Lakers opponents tomorrow here’s a trip down memory lane with Phil Jackson. Out of all his insults of other teams, cities, fans etc. this one probably stands out the most. “”We’re talking about semi-civilized in Sacramento. Those people are just maybe redneck in some form or fashion. That’s their team, their game, the one game in town. What else do they play? Picking fruits and vegetables?”

  64. And a Sasha sighting, so the game is finally over. To think that Sasha was once as integral a part of this team as Luke once was…

    .. now he’s lower than the two rookies (partly due to his position, of course) and inching closer to Adam Morrison territory…

  65. Sasha: Who needs playing time on the court when you can do it off the court? 🙂

  66. Mike Penberthy – Thanks for that quote. Always good to remember Phil in full provocateur mode.

    harold – I wonder if Maria Sharapova would let Sasha grow a moustache to really complete the Ammo transformation that he appears to be undergoing…

  67. I am much enjoying this early part of the season. The scary part is, they have not played their best game yet

  68. I always enjoy seeing the Gasol brothers in action against each other, nice W, btw.

  69. A good win, by the way, for the Lakers. But, one thing to take away from this game was the 3rd quarter when they were just either overdribbling (DF) instead of shooting when they were open, or the ball was staying on one side for the whole possession. The defense was lackluster for most part of the second half, and those are the things that must be talked over. Complacency must never be in the mind of this Laker team if they want to be really special.

  70. Interesting that more and more posters are agreeing with my early assessment that Ratliff is a downgrade from DJ. He is simply terrible now. I’m hoping he improves once he obtains a rudimentary knowledge of the offense, but man…shades of Kwame.

  71. I just got back from this game… and wow are we a great basketball team. Although it was easy to see that we won’t be a good defensive or rebounding team till Bynum gets back. We just get pushed around and give up too many offensive rebounds… although I haven’t seen the numbers yet.

    Lol… I will never hate on bench players that don’t get much playing time. But if you would like to be my guest. He was a guy who was supposed to play 4 to 6 minutes a game when everyone is healthy. But yes DJ is a better player this year. The Lakers need a backup Center. Need might be an overstatement 😉

  72. You know things are going well if we’re nitpicking the performance of our, what, 9th or 10th best player?

    Anyway, i think that Barnes, Blake and Brown are all having fun after signing ‘below-market price’ to be with the Lakers. Whether they’ll be as joyful as Artest at the end of the year remains to be seen, but each of them have an opportunity to save their bodies from too many minutes, pad stats against other teams’ benches, and earn a ring with some luck.

    Which could translate to a big payday for all of them that could make up for this signing, barring some drastic changes in the labor agreement.

  73. Aaron,

    The numbers for this game was 59-36, Lakers with the rebounding advantage. Not sure how you think that the Lakers aren’t a good rebounding team without Bynum (not to discredit Bynum’s rebounding prowess, however). Pau with 13, Lamar with 8, Barnes with… 14! Then again, Memphis did not have very much size this game.

  74. thisisweaksauce,

    Check how many offensive rebounds we gave up… the answer… a lot!

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