Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Darius Soriano —  March 13, 2012

Records: Lakers 25-16 (3rd in West), Grizzlies 24-16 (4th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 104.0 (15th in NBA), Grizzlies 102.7 (19th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.4 (9th in NBA), Grizzlies 100.3 (6th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Sam Young, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Injuries: Lakers: none; Grizzlies: Zach Randolph (out), Rudy Gay (out), Darrell Arthur (out)

The Lakers Coming in: Tell me if this sounds familiar: The Lakers are coming off an important game at home that left them in high spirits after claiming the W. In that game they got a big contribution from the Artest I call Ron and now leave the friendly confines of Staples Center to go on the road. In order to secure the win, the Lakers best players had to play heavy minutes but in the moment that mattered little as the win was all that mattered.

If your memory hasn’t been jogged yet, I’ll fill in the blanks: Last week, the Lakers beat the Heat in a statement game in a Sunday matinee contest that they hoped would give them a spark. The day before yesterday, the Lakers beat the Celtics in a game that was played under the exact same circumstances with the same desired after affects on everyone’s mind. However, after the win over the Heat, the Lakers went on the road and played lazy, uninspired basketball and dropped two games on back to back nights against the Pistons and Wizards. Today, they’re on the road and play their first game of a back to back against the Grizzlies and go to New Orleans to face the Hornets tomorrow.

Have the Lakers learned their lesson? Tonight we find out.

The Grizzlies Coming in: The Grizz have won 6 of 7 and 12 of their last 15. They’ve gone from questionable playoff team to 4th in the conference – which could move up to 3rd with a win tonight. They’ve been playing great defense, getting offensive contributions from a variety of players, and have exceeded nearly all expectations for this season after the injuries suffered to Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur to start the year. How Lionel Hollins’ name isn’t mentioned more often for coach of the year is beyond me.

All that said, the Grizz enter tonight’s game more banged up than usual with Rudy Gay ruled out due to a mild concussion he suffered two days ago. According to this report, he’s gone through the mandated tests to be cleared the past two days and has not passed them. Gay’s absence obviously hurts the team but with their strong play of late and momentum on their side, I still expect a great effort from them tonight.

Grizzlies Blogs: 3 Shades of Blue does a great job covering the Grizz. Give their site a read.

Keys to game: On the surface, the Grizz are a team that matches up well with the Lakers. They start two big men with good size, have an elite wing defender, have a quick PG, and do wonders in transition off forcing turnovers. Their formula to win games is to pressure the ball, defend the paint, and outrun teams to get good shots in transition. When in the half court, they rely on P&R’s and off ball movement with Gasol intiating from the elbow area as a trigger man for their sets.

The Lakers, to counter these strengths, must play a certain way. A few things I’ll be watching for:

*How does Kobe work against Allen? Tony is one of the most agressive, and successful, wing defenders. He’ll pressure Kobe’s handle, body him on and off the ball, and contest every shot. To take advantage of this style, Kobe will need to work well off the ball and make his catches on the move. Running Allen off screens, cutting off ball and into space where he can make catches easier, and then using his stength to fend him off will be key. When he does receive passes in order to create in isolations he must move quickly and use his fakes judiciously. Allen wants to contest shots and that aggression can be used against him but the fakes must come when Kobe already has an advantage, not used to try and gain one.

*Get Bynum the ball early in possessions. One of Marc Gasol’s strengths as a defender is his anticipation and how he can play angles. He’ll battle Drew for space and cut off his path when trying to move into his preferred spots. So, Bynum will need to rim-run in early offense and try to get position early. When he does get it, the Lakers wings must locate him and get him the ball on time and on target to facilitate a quick move from Drew. Bynum can also use his turn and face game against Marc as a counter to his preferred power moves. Marc has the girth to fight with Drew on the block so Bynum should use his quickness and length to get good shots.

*The Lakers must avoid turnovers. Passing angles evaporate quicky against this team and lazy passes will be intercepted. They like to pressure the ball in the half court and will extend that pressure full court if they feel they can disrupt the other team’s offense. Tonight the Lakers will need to be careful with how they try to move the ball around the perimeter and try to push the ball up court quickly to avoid working late into the shot clock. Better off ball screens will do a lot to help free the Lakers wings (and big men moving to the post), making sure that contact is made and position on screens is held will be a key factor tonight.

*Defensively, the Lakers must protect the paint and should surrender jumpers to this team. They’re an awful three point shooting team and don’t do well when they settle for the J in favor of attacking. The Lakers need to gum up the Grizzlies’ P&R attack by going under screens and making Conley make jumpers. Mayo should also be tested early and forced to show that his J is on before he’s shown too much respect from range. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Kobe guarding Tony Allen to start the game and have him roam on D and help anytime the ball is penetrated or if the post is exposed for too long.

In the end, this is a game that affects the standings and is important for that reason alone. However, it’s also time that the Lakers show that they can be a viable road team by beating good teams. Yes Rudy is out and they’re already down Randolph. But that should provide even more incentive to get this win. Rather than relaxing, the Lakers need to come out hard and get this game. If they play well, they may even get some rest in the 4th.

Where you can watch: 5pm start time on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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118 responses to Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Just messing around on the trade machine a minute ago I discovered that two of our players have now cracked the 10.0 PER threshold!

    Josh McRoberts (10.6) and Andrew Goudelock (10.0) come on down! You’ve just won a Kia!***

    ***Said Kia may or may not have been dunked on by Blake Griffin

  2. Lakers road struggles will continue tonight. Lakers usually struggle in Memphis anyway. Oh and this Boozer for Pau trade offer/slap in the face, I suggest a counter offer of Pau for Rose.

  3. I really hope Marc Gasol can put up a better showing against Andrew than the last time they squared off… Gasol went 0 for 9 shooting and wasn’t able to defend Drew on the other end as Bynum went for like 26 and 14 if I remember correctly. It would be nice for Drew to have a real challenge tonight. Also… Darius… You said Bynum has a length advantage but online it says that Gasol has a 7-4 wingspan while Bynum is at 7-3. Is that right? Either way Andrew needs to continue to use his quickness against the big spaniard.

  4. reignman,
    Ha… I heard it was Boozer, Deng, amd Watson… But either way…

  5. #4. I’ve read that Bynum’s wingspan is 7’6″ but can’t find it anywhere.

  6. Darius,
    That would be awesome. All I found was a 7-3 wingspan at draft express. So dumb those stats aren’t on espn. More important than height. Weird. And they should be measuring from feet to shoulders as that’s what is important re height. Why in a billion dollar business are people so dumb?

  7. Dear Aaron:

    We don’t appreciate you trying to change the way height is measured in the NBA.

    Sincerely,

    Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Keith Closs, and a giraffe

  8. Ha, ha, lil’ pau! Good stuff.

  9. It is SO much time for Pau to punk his little brother. Just let all the bad karma open a world of hurt on lil’ bro’ like I bet it has many times in the past…

  10. Portland has somehow only managed 15 points in the first 14 minutes of this game against the Pacers. Sometimes the NBA still surprises me.

  11. Lil Pau,
    Haha. Amazing. That was pretty good.

  12. @ lil Pau:

    Hilarious.

    As for tonight’s game, I’ll have a keen eye on Drew. Lets see if he has any lingering effects from that bruised knee that he suffered against the C’s. Hopefully he’s still moving fluidly and has the same confidence n the knee that he’s been displaying.

  13. Kobe Alert: KB is closing on MJ in 2 all time categories: FTA’s (needs 56) and FT’s (needs 31). KB is currently 5th and 9th respectively. KB needs five 3PFGA’s to eclipse Peja for 7th place there (he could do that in the first half).

  14. Man, Bynum hasn’t won a jump for quite awhile.

  15. since when could Tony Allen shoot?

  16. Has Bynum begun dominating Marc Gasol yet? Nice hustle by Kobe on that play to save it to Bynum!

  17. the grizz are the type of team that will just beat us with energy and athleticism

  18. well our small forwards are certainly off to a flyer

  19. Already 7 turnovers? Still 30 seconds left in the first? Ouch.

  20. I know trade talk is forbidden, but OJ Mayo is a player I’m surprised hasn’t come up in any rumors. He’s a free agent after this season, the Grizz have a lot of redundancy at his positions (Gaye, Allen, Conley). and they once tried to trade him for Darko but the trade was nixed because they turned the paperwork in too late. Clearly he’s not part of their future.

    He’s a guy I’d be happy to have on our roster. He brings 3 pt shooting, can create his own shot, can handle the ball, could play the 1 or the 2, and could spell Kobe defensively. Maybe he should be a potential TPE option?

  21. Lakers failed to read Darius’s preview. 7 turnovers lead to 8 points. Lakers make 7 FGs in 1st quarter.

  22. Getting beat on the boards and 7 turnovers. Very little effort from the bigs here. They are sleep walking – need to wake up.

  23. Getting beat on the boards and 7 turnovers.

    __

    Usual issues.

    Worth noting: Memphis is playing without Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph. Teams that are structured the way Memphis is don’t count as much on one or two guys, but still.

  24. any links for the game?

  25. Have to be happy when the bench does this to start the 2nd. We’ve seen it a few times lately, and it is very nice to see. As a team, the Lakers struggle to put together too many 8-0 runs, simply because of the issues with turnovers and giving up offensive boards. But this group seems to be getting it done, at least in a small sample size type of way.

  26. First trade has gone through.
    Bucks and Warriors have agreed in principle on trade to send Bogut and Jackson to Warriors for Ellis, Udoh and Brown.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-wojnarowski_monta_ellis_andrew_bogut_trade_031312

  27. The second unit of Blake, Glock, Barnes & Bynum seems to be really coming into their own lately. I’d like to see McRoberts run with them rather than Murphy. If Murphy’s not hitting from the outside he’s a non factor and at this point he’s not even shooting, let alone hitting.

  28. Decent game by the two opposing centers tonight! Bynum with 12 points and 4 turnovers. Gasol with 8 points.

  29. Wow – Kobe – Just amazing

  30. Kobe with the slam dunk.

  31. Great 2nd Q from AB; We are now tied in boards

  32. a few of those WIDE open trey’s go in and we’re sitting pretty

  33. Drew has definitely answered my question n regards to that knee … Loved that last fooray to the hole and slam by Kobe. Would hope we can see more of that … Still too may turnovers, but managed to keep it close regardless.

  34. anyone else think this Bucks-Warriors trade is pretty risky for both teams. If Bogut is healthy its pretty good for warriors but he is rarely that and putting Jennings and Ellis together is an awful lot of long jumpers but not much passing

  35. Warriors trade Ellis, Brown to Bucks for Bogut, Jackson

    That ends the Gstate pursuit of D12

  36. 36 shots for the first half are just too few. We have to cut down on the turnovers (10) for the half are too many. Can you imagine us with an effective point guard, cutting the turnovers down and still being consistent with the shot. My oh my.

  37. His knee at any moment can start suffering arthritis during his career. That will never change.

  38. Robert – I was just about to post that.

    Not a terrible move by Golden State. Assuming Bogut’s health holds up, that’d be the best defensive C that they’ve had in forever. And shipping out Ellis should help to balance their backcourt. Interesting days in Milwaukee with Ellis and Jennings. Not an ideal pairing for mine.

    Back to the game – what an atrocious way to come out in the 2nd half! Exactly what we weren’t looking for after an improved second quarter.

  39. fouled, passed from out of bounds, fouled again

  40. What just happened?

  41. Terrible start to the third quarter for the Lakers 18-4 run for Memphis

  42. Ugh, Lakers just have such a hard time with fast, frenetic teams . . .

  43. The Lakers smh

  44. When things get bad they turn ugly quick

    Now do people see what happens when you try to temper down Kobe’s aggressiveness

    Pau is having a bad game

  45. Pau not helping his “dont trade me” cause and the whole team has forgot that Bynum is on the team

  46. Big 5 point swing there!

  47. We’ve had like 3 wide-open air balls. This is sad. Our bench is back to its road woes…

  48. Thanks Coach Brown for subbing out Pau. He’s playing like a female dog tonight.

  49. It’s awesome when guys like Bass and Speights eat us up. I’m kidding. It’s not.

  50. That was a big time dunk by Bynum there!

  51. Blake is way too lob happy

  52. Don’t like that Magic score. When it is 50/50 that they “pull the Cleveland”, little things like that could make the difference.

  53. Kobe gets hot, he gets hot

  54. Ugh. That was a horrible possession by Kobe. Dribble dribble. Bad heat check.

  55. Alright. Let’s ride Bynum for a while. He’s looking spry.

  56. more Drew!

  57. Links anyone?

  58. That was a great pass to Pau and then to Bynum for the Dunk! Awesome ball movement!

  59. i have to say, win or lose that Memphis have played very well today and are a bad match up for us

  60. Bynum is friggen hungry right now. Love how he scrapped for that loose ball right there. Love what he is showing. No injury, no injury! Knocking on wood.

  61. Offensive Rebounds

  62. We can’t secure a defensive board right now.

  63. Maresse Speights – Today’s candidate for mid-level NBA player that the Lakers make look like an all star.

  64. You gotta love Pau Gasol if your a Laker Fan.

    But in nights like this it’s really difficult not to support one of those trade scenarios involving him.

    He’s completely useless on offense and defense. Speights, for chrissake!!!!

    We cannot win with such a poor performance of one of our big three.

  65. KOBEEEEEE

  66. Lakers love giving up careers highs don’t they

  67. Kobe to Pau for the slam dunk and the lead. Great play by Kobe to recognize Pau.

  68. FINISH HIM.

  69. beautiful last few minutes by Mamba, lets finish this one!

  70. Ok, going to live with Kobe.

  71. I wish Kobe would have been more of a Lebron there and passed to Blake in the corner for the open J.

  72. Great defense to close out the 4th in 2 consecutive games

  73. I’ve been tough on Kobe for his shot selection/overall-decisionmaking lately, especially in the DET/WAS debacles–so time to be fair when praise is deserved. He has been splendid tonight. Operating in the flow of the offense–taking over in small segments of the game–and then back to the flow. Absolutely masterful.

  74. Kobe in the final 5 minutes of regulation….

    2 misses, 2 FTMs, 1 FGM, 1 3PM, 2 Assists, 1 steal.

    Not bad for being ‘not clutch’ according to Abbott.

  75. Hey MB…why the f**k is Mwp in the game?

  76. barnes should be out there really

  77. Playing almost 50 minutes must’ve gotten to Kobe. He’s usually money from that spot.

  78. Was that an entire overtime with no timeouts? If so, I definitely approve.

  79. I only see the espn game cast. Why is Kobe 10/23 and continuing to jack up shots while Bynum is. 12/15???

  80. After all of the energy that we’re excerting tonight, we gotta get this one. Probably won’t have any legs for tomorrow nights game n N.O.

  81. the guys are really on their last legs

  82. Kobe just past 50 minutes

  83. @guest–Kobe’s lack couple of shots that have looked like “jacks” have looked like designed iso’s called by the staff—no one was really looking to get open away from the ball

  84. Kobe and Pau P&R, Kobe to Pau, Pau to Bynum for the slam dunk. What a great play.

  85. Will kobe take a shot just to outscore bynum?

  86. lawler’s law not in effect tonight!

  87. Bynum 37 pts and 16 boards on 15/18 from the field. What a beast.

  88. Gametime … It’s A Wrap … On To The Next One.

  89. Gasol has had a tough night—but he has really made great decisions late in the game to set up his teammates—he made the good pass to Kobe to set up the three that tied the game late in regulation, and has made some great passes to Bynum for easy dunks.

  90. Metta not giving me peace.

  91. What a great game. I didn’t think there was any way we would win this game after we got down by 15 points. This may have been the last game we see Gasol in a Lakers uniform. If so, what a way to go out.

  92. Gutsy win tonight. Great game by Drew and Kobe. I’m exhausted! I can’t imagine how the players feel. Hope they have some left in the tank for tomorrow…

  93. gusty win, no more Brevin Knight! ah thankyou lord!

  94. That was HUGE. KB +AB both great.

    Bench back to normal – lost – 34-18

  95. KB: 52 minutes AB: 49

  96. Double OT, and the W.

  97. Blake +23, Fisher -18.

    Urgh.

  98. Hi guys, was there a basketball game tonight? :D

  99. Looks like Orlando’s going to regret not trading for Drew straight up. Lakers have shown they’re not desperate enough to give up both Pau and Drew for Howard, who apparently prefers to walk as a free agent to the Nets. Orlando’s going to be left with nothing but bad contracts on their roster.

    As much as I’ve been frustrated with the FO at times, I give them credit for realizing they, not Orlando, hold the upper hand. They now have a clear Plan B, which is to find a serviceable PG for the rest of the season, and waiting for the offseason and draft for a more permanent solution.

    Barring an incredible deal in the next 2 days, looks like Pau and Drew will be able to play out the season without a cloud hanging over their heads.

  100. @The Dude

    More like 3? I was fairly certain we’d lose this one, fairly certain we’d win in regulation, then not so sure … but we won so…

  101. Good win Memphis had no Rudy or Randolph. Perspective

    Tommorrow is a game where you sit the big 3 take a loss

  102. @kevin
    Totally agree. Play the big 3 sparingly and give the bench a chance to contribute and get some confidence against lowly hornets. It’s still a winable game if bench plays ok (I know a BIG IF on the road). At the very least give goudelock some big mins in Kobe’s stead.

  103. I don’t care who didn’t play tonight. Road wins for this team are like gold. Plus, the Lakers get every teams’ best shot. Kobe and Bynum came to play tonight. Let’s hope they can put NO away early tomorrow night and rest the starters.

  104. @104 – Drew doesn’t care, he’s just playing ball. Really good ball. OTOH, Pau is a thoughtful and sensitive guy. It’s obvious that it’s been weighing on him all season, but he’s still hanging in there. He did have 8 assists tonight.

    @105 – This was one of those weird nights where I thought we were always in it, despite the big deficits. Gotta give Coach Brown some props for leaving Blake and keeping Fish on the bench for the entire 4th and both OT periods. I thought Blake did a really good job defending the Conley/Gasol pick and roll. Stayed right on Conley’s back pocket.

  105. Kevin @ 106, yeah, Pop would rest the starters, or at least play them light minutes.

  106. We went double OT and now Mitch is going double OT.

    Hopefully we get the same result: A WIN

  107. Jameer had 25 points tonight on 10-16 shooting against the Heat. When was the last time our PG’s had 25 points combined? Huge upgrade.

  108. what’d I say? start Blake
    and don’t trade Pau
    and don’t trade drew, even for Howard

  109. This game tonight proved two things: a) no hurry in breaking the Big 3; b) they really need young legs for transition defense. The reason why the game was close because MWP kept on bricking shots! But he was a fantastic teammate in defense. We saw also some reverse strategies in psychology of road games instead of leading most of the time, they just hang on and then go for broke in the last quarter.

  110. Tommorrow is a game where you sit the big 3 take a loss
    _________ …

    Try telling that to Kobe ..

  111. They had 2 of their top players out, They shot 2-19 from 3 pt line, We took 34 FT’s to their 5. Their bench crushed ours. This game or the Miami game changes nothing. Neither do the bad losses at Pistons + Wizards. We are what we are. We are behind the Top 3 teams, + close with a few others, making us the “6th” best team. If you are OK with that – then tell MK to turn off his phone. If you want more, then we need change. We have 1 1/2 days.

  112. Robert,

    Your reasoning about the Lakers also applies to Nelson. He is short, not that athletic, and is 30. He has been awful all year. Some of the that is probably the Howard-stress, but he is what he is. Also, he is aware that Howard wants to play with a PG better than he is. Slight upgrade? Yes. Huge? No.

    Orlando is being mocked by some after Howard’s statement tonight, but they are sitting at 28-15, have the 3rd seed, and have beaten Chicago and Miami over the last 10 days. Although he did it in a backhanded way, Howard said tonight that he wants to stay the rest of the year. Trading him for Andrew Bynum right now would probably enrage most of their fanbase.

    ___

    Good win, but as noted–perspective.

    Pau, Drew and Kobe should all rest some tomorrow. Seriously doubt that it happens.

  113. Robert’s take in 116 is correct. It is great to enjoy the wins, but this team is what it is.

  114. An upgrade at the point and we are fine though. I’m okay with running with what we got if we can do that.

    Bynum was a beast tonight. The FT discrepancy was extreme tonight. Memphis was doing a ton of jump-shooting while we pounded it to ‘Drew and Kobe drew 3 fouls on jumpshots. Good win against the current 4th seed.