Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Darius Soriano —  November 23, 2012

Records: Lakers 6-6 (Tied for 7th in the West), Grizzlies 8-2 (1st in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (5th in the NBA), Grizzlies 104.0 (8th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 99.8 (13th in the NBA), Grizzlies 98.2 (8th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Darius Morris, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Nash (out), Steve Blake (out); Grizzlies: Darrel Arthur (out)
Where you can watch: 5pm start time out west on TWC Sports Net. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Rather than go with a traditional preview, we’re going 3-on-3 with me, J.M., and Emile on tonight’s game. Feel free to give your take on the three questions below (or add your own) in the comments.

1. Who needs to step up tonight besides Kobe for the Lakers to win? 3on3 truehoopnetwork1

Darius Soiano: The easy answer is Pau or Dwight Howard as their individual matchups vs. Randolph and Marc Gasol are ones that require they play well if the Lakers are to win. But I’m going to go with the PG duo of Darius Morris and Chris Duhon. Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless offer perimeter playmaking, defense, and scoring punch to a post-centric Memphis attack and if the Lakers’ point guards do little to counteract and/or offeset the Grizz duo’s production, it will be very difficult for our guys to pull out the win.

Emile Avanessian:  Pau Gasol. Dwight Howard’s quiet game in Sacramento was a one-off. He’s not getting four shots again. Pau, however, got a more characteristic 10 field goal attempts. What he did with was disappointing. Aside from the 3-pointer he made in the second quarter, Pau missed seven of nine shots – all four of the jumpers he attempted in the game, and three of five in the paint. As secondary facilitator, top-thee (on a top heavy team) scorer and (against as good a power forward/center combo as there is in the league) key interior defender, Pau Gasol has got to hammer the boards, really dig in on D and, simple as it sounds, make more shots.

J.M. Poulard: Dwight Howard isn’t D12 just yet, but he will have to look a little like the player that once hoisted the Defensive Player of the Year award in order for the Lakers to be victorious tonight. His ability to change shots at the rim, defend big men one-on-one as well as help in the pick-and-roll and then retreat back to the paint need to show up just a little in order to take away the biggest advantage the Grizzlies have: their interior scoring.

2. What part of Memphis’ style of play concerns you the most?

Darius: Their ball-hawking defense is particularly worrisome tonight. The Lakers have been better at taking care of the ball since the Princeton offense was scrapped, but against the Kings the giveaways returned and the Lakers suffered for it. Kobe had 7 turnovers on his own against Sacramento and a repeat-type performance would be a disaster against a Grizzlies group who loves to play the passing lanes and turn steals into easy baskets. Every Laker will need to be aware of Memphis trying to force miscues and will need to be more aware when making passes of any kind. Also very important is that the bigs are cognizant of double teams in the post as guards digging down can quickly turn into a lost possession.

Emile: The front line. Style aside, Rudy Gay plays well against the Lakers. Plain and simple. And he’s the least of the Lakers concerns up front. As things stand today, the Grizzlies feature the best power-forward-center combo in the NBA. The Lakers duo is not far behind, but to argue that Dwight and Pau have performed at the level of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in 2012-13 is incorrect. Zach Randolph has been a terror or the boards – averaging 13.8 per game and ranking third in both Offensive and Total Rebound Rate – while hanging 16.7 points per game on 47% FG and a 21.3 Usage Rate. Gasol, meanwhile is averaging 15, 7 and nearly five assists per game. As a center. He’s got a 20+ PER with a Usage Rate of 16.3. We see maestros at the point guard position regularly. Marc Gasol is playing that type of game – offensive catalyst, but not primary scorer – from the paint.

J.M.: The Grizzlies play at what occasionally seems like a breakneck pace – especially at home – because they clamp down, getting into passing lanes, force turnovers and fly down the court for transition baskets. If the Lakers fail to properly space the floor and deliver pinpoint passes, the Grizzlies will force a multitude of mistakes and capitalize on them.

3. If only choosing one key for the Lakers to win, what would it be?

Darius: Rebounding effectively on both ends of the floor will be key tonight. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph feast on the glass on both ends and their ability to extend possessions can be a major factor if the Lakers allow it to continue tonight. On the other end, the Lakers’ bigs must be better on their own offensive glass than they were against Sacramento by securing extra possessions and converting them into second chance points. Memphis wants to grind you down on both ends but controlling the glass can limit their ability to do so.

Emile: The front line. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard have generally played pretty well in these early goings, but we’ve yet to see a dominating performance from the Lakers’ bigs. Sure, Dwight’s not 100% yet and Pau’s not normally the type of player to actively take over a game, and plus, Bean’s killing it, but if the Lakers are going to win at a contender clip and consistently beat good teams, it can’t solely be on the back of Kobe Bryant. Tonight the need for such a performance is heightened, with the Grizzlies boasting the best 1-2-3 front line in the NBA, and an in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have literally a do-it-all duo at the bigs. Pau and Dwight will not only have to produce at superstar levels at the offensive end, but challenge perhaps the most skilled big man combo in the NBA.

J.M.: Rebounding. The turnovers will go a long way towards determining the tempo of the game, but nothing controls a contest quite like a rebounding edge. Memphis loves to feast on offensive rebounds but has trouble when opposing teams crash the boards on them as evidenced by their most recent loss to the Denver Nuggets. Own the boards, own the Grizz.


Lastly, I just wanted to add that the Lakers are entering a difficult part of their schedule with a back to back tonight and tomorrow against the Grizz and the Mavs and four straight games against playoff caliber opponents. Now that the season has started there is no rest for the weary and the Lakers will need to claw their way up in the standings while adjusting to their new coach and learning another new system.

They will be fatigued — mentally and physically — and it will show in their play. And while it’s understood the season is a marathon with time to find their stride, it will be better for them if they can rack up some wins in the process. The other teams will not wait for the Lakers to become the juggernaut we all hope they can become; opponents will try to get their licks in now. This team will have to fight their way out of the corner while they’re learning to play together and dealing with injuries. Here’s hoping they’re up to it.

Darius Soriano

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99 responses to Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Bigs need to show up tonight – all 3. They wont have to worry so much about demarcus cousins or some speedy undersized 4 beating them down the court ala sactown so it should be easier to at least stay w their men. But they need to show energy and life and move. As Dantoni says “the ball finds energy” and howard played w none last game hence the 4-5 fga’s. Hopefully the day off refreshed everyone.

    Hate to say it but kobe is gonna have to handle the balls lots otherwise Morris is going to get robbed by Conley often. Would be nice to see Meeks get off again and build on wed.

  2. Kobe Alert: KB tied D Fisher for 33rd on the all time games list and will go by him at tip off. With his recent barrage, he also moved into a tie with Nick Van Exel for 15th on the all time 3 pointers made list. Only 189 points to go for 30k. Where would we be without this guy? 17 years and he plays witrh more energy than all others combined.

  3. anyone have a link?

  4. Pau usually plays invigorating basketball against his brother, so expect for him to have a good game. Dwight will have bad games on back to backs until he gets in game shape which I do NOT expect until after the first of the year.

    Say what you will about Kobe but Kobe is playing awesome after 17 years in the league. Wish we could get other players to play like him.

    May be a good time to give Jamison extended playing time even if it means giving Pau less playing time. Ebanks needs to play even if it’s just to showcase him for a trade.

    Why Raja Bell? Didn’t he refuse to sign with the Lakers last year because he hates Kobe? The last thing the Lakers need is another aged player with the potential of getting injured.

    Wish the Lakers could get Lamar back. Letting him go did not bode well with his career nor have the Lakers been able to replicate his basketball abilities, albeit mercurial.

  5. @sufi, or

  6. Pau has a history of low performance games against his brother. Look it up. Hope Kobe lit a fire under him on tbe plane.

  7. Wonder? Would Griz like to have the Gasol brothers? Oh ya Z with Dwight!

  8. The point made above, that the other teams will not wait, is correct. And we need a top seed desperately. For those thinking we can “peak in the playoffs”, I offer a modified version of my previously presented case that a top seed is required. In the 66 years of NBA history, the eventual champion has had a #1 seed in their conference – 44 times. They have had a #2 seed 13 times and a #3 seed , 7 times. Go Lakers ! However please go quickly !

  9. Was wondering about that Ko – didnt know what their record head to head was. would be nice for all the bigs to at least play to a draw and artest not let gay go off for huge #’s. That should give them a fighters chance hopefully if the bench doesnt get too sloppy. Just want to see Morris play in control on offence and not put kobe in a position where he becomes responsible for everything too early on.

  10. I like the format of asking questions for pre game write ups. Hope it continues. Cool to get multiple opinions pre game.

    Need a win tonight because there losing tommorrow.

  11. My proline wager has the game as basically a wash odds wise so hopefully Lakers show up.

  12. Dwight is Kwame Brown like with the ball and again Kobe playing zero defense out there on Allen,

  13. Looks like we are going to lose tonight and tomm with this defense.

  14. Pau is just not good anymore.

  15. No Ko, he will be an Allstar again once Nash returns…..LOL, really, he needs to go.

  16. This Is just a .500 team as Gasol is just turned into garbage. He has regressed from top 5 to bottom 5 in the West. The guy is just a terrible player.

    $19 million for that!

  17. Gasol needs to work out his legs… he doesnt even jump on his jumper and everything is short.

  18. First and second year we got Gasol we could be almost certain for at least 16 and 10,. Now we can be certain for 8 and 7

  19. Lakers are old and overrated. Time to drop our projections with this current group.

    Dwight has not been better than drew last year don’t care what the stats say the eyes are more difinitive. He’s been as soft as Pau. 100 million dollar payroll with a .500 team. Unacceptable.

  20. Yes, even Kobe as good has he has been this year shooting the ball, plays bad defense and turns the ball over about 20 times a game. Even with an old Steve Nash, I agree with Ko, this team is going to be a 4th-6th seed.

  21. They can’t get any worse at least – everyone seems lost and scrambling on both sides of the ball.
    Heads aren’t in it to start.

  22. Ah but Kevin the 38 year old Nash with a bad leg will change everything.

    2nan team is a 5th or 6th seed. It worse then even I thought.

  23. Jerke: 2nd of back to backs and 3rd in 4 nights games are won by teams with depth. Lakers have none and the score indicates that.

    Ko: I agree the team’s in trouble. Chemistry won’t fix fundamental flaws like depth and youth. Lakers are the new Yankees and sad to say maybe Pau has turned into A-Rod.

  24. Wish lakers had made serious run at oj mayo. Coulda had a nice legit 3 guard rotation. Kobe is looking rough.

  25. Lakers cannot have those cross court passes, too easy to pick off and go the other way for an easy basket.

    Lakers bench/ w/Howard got them back into this game.

  26. Never seen anyone worse with ball on the floor then Dwight. 5 or 6 times a game.

    Need DNA test to make sure he is not really Kwame Brown.

    Who us coaching him. Bring in Kareem. Seldom happened to him.

  27. Dwight just isn’t the same right now except in spurts – nice little run though

  28. Pau has now been surpassed by his brother

  29. This is why Morris stays on the 2nd team. He is not good at controlling the game like a true point guard does. This costs us much.

  30. Ugh, aLl other issues aside – having Nash back to cut down on the turnovers 25 ft from the basket would be nice

  31. Our starters are not moving on offense, not taking the first open shot. And it’s creating turnovers. They should play simpler.

  32. Not to belabor my point(but I will) Pau with his 1 for 6 tonight is shooting 41% whicuses 10% below his career average and 5 point below his scoring average. Also he is getting out scored by 7 a game.

    Rather see Hill starting and bring him off the bench since he is now a 2nd unit player.

  33. Pau can’t guard anyone, can’t rotate on help D, can’t get rebounds against active bigs, and has never boxed out.

  34. WOW Kobe with the slam dunk..

  35. OMG – Kobe !

  36. Still fugly but better. Shouldn’t take pnr screens just to get a simple entry pass into howard. And howard needs to get his hands up to stop being pickpocketed down low. Gasol looks gassed again and this isn’t at D’antoni pace either. Nash wouldn’t stop conley much either but at least he’d stay even offensively and provide a true outside threat.

  37. Howard on pace for another 40 min night. Remember reading a Simmons column claiming he absolutely killed Stoudemire’s knees by playing him so much. He might want to take it slow for a guy coming off back surgery.

  38. Amare had microfracture surgery – nothing to do w mins played and that was at the start of amares career – he was only in the league 4-5 yrs at the time.

  39. Pau 2 points 3 rebounds
    Z 12 point 7 rebounds 4 offense.

    Yea that about even!

    How long can this go on?

  40. Gasol should be traded. $19 million a year is too much for a guy who shows no effort.

  41. Bah – horrible call on kobe

  42. Gasol another turnover… this guy stinks.

  43. MikeMcGee: Not every team is as desperate as the Nets were to appease a star and new fanbase with the green light to add such high salary. And Atlanta to shed salary and a player the city wasn’t behind. That was kind of a perfect storm. A couple if that would line up to take on 38 mil and probably would only be willing to do so if you took bad deals too.

  44. That whole the Lakers got Pau for nothing thing should finally be considered dead. Marc is now better than Pau ever was.

  45. Even with the last turnover, it looks like Morris and MWP are the only starters that are playing good. Hard to compete if our best three players are not playing well. Kobe at least trying to do something when Pau is afraid to shoot and Howard can’t catch the ball.

  46. Hate to bring it up. Lakers with mostly away games in December could be 10 games behind fighting for a playoff spot by Xmas.

    This team is just terrible on defense, terrible on turnovers and reminds me of the Smush/Brown years with only one guy Kobe making an effort.

    They are brainless out there and lead The NBA in turnovers. What a disappointment lazy team. They may go 0 and 42 on the road.

  47. Might as well trade Paul for Josh Smith and Kyle Korver.

  48. Pau*

  49. There is a positive thing tonight I guess – it seems D’Antoni has started developing the bench and figuring out the rotations. I hope he’ll find minutes for Hill, maybe he’ll cut down Pau minutes and Gasol will play better because of it. I hope.

  50. Nice give n go by Artest and Jamison.

  51. So, I guess coaching was not the problem. The Lakers owe Mike Brown an apology for
    taking his job. This team is not constructed to play offense or defense.

  52. Let’s see if the Lakers can pick it up defensively with Pau sitting.

  53. Just because he’s made a few nice offensive plays does not mean this is a good game for Kobe. He’s been awful defensively, getting beat off the dribble by guys like Allen and Pondexter, not boxing out, and shooting 4/15. His first bad game of the season.

  54. The scoop with Marc was that we already had a pure Center in Bynum at the time, so Marc was considered expendable. I have both Gasols’ on my fantasy team, and yes Marc is significantly better this year, at least stat wise. The Grizzlies are a very good team this season, probably the best they have been in franchise history. So if the Lakers do lose tonight, it does not really mean they are no good, and will not go anywhere in the post-season, at this time of the season anyway. Hopefully with Nash back in action, the tide will turn for the Lakers.

  55. Formal you are kidding right? Atlanta wouldn’t trade Korver for Pau, other teams actually scout players. You think they can’t see a guy now shooting 41% and averaging under 14 a game who clearly is just collecting a $19 million check?

    I rather have McRoberts back. As least he played like a man

  56. Did meeks make it on at all? Don’t remember him seeing court yet. At least jamison is getting some burn – wonder if hills back is hurting again.

  57. What’s wrong with a Morris, Kobe, Jamison, Metta, Howard combo?

  58. Howards posting up too far away – needs to get deeper position so he can do something with it. Even if he gets fouled at least it stops the clock

  59. Bench players getting it done tonight, that’s good to see.

  60. So much better with Pau on the bench, show me some guts Mike and leave him there.

  61. Once again, Dwight surrounded by shooters is getting us back in the game. Just as in the 1st half. Excellent ball movement.

  62. Lol – bayless looked like he was gonna run over and strangle sacre for celebrating that block hahaha

  63. Maybe I’m not watching the same game as the others, but this small ball is working. Good to see some in-game coaching for a change.

  64. By the way Pau is a minus 23 coming off minus 14 last game.

  65. The flopping by the Grizz in this game is out of control as refs keep calling it. I renew my call for the league to fine refs that consistently call obvious flops. That will stop flop calls.

  66. Feels like so many of these games are fools gold because Lakers are down big spend the rest of the game trying to make it respectable. Then we remember what they did to cut into the lead instead of how they got in it in the first play. Fool’s Gold.

  67. Kobe for three, Lakers have a chance to pull this game out.

  68. Is it me or should tony allen have about 9 fouls in the game?

  69. Jamison has 7 rebounds. Pau and Howard combined have 8. Lackadaisical.

  70. Just looked at the stats, is that right? Dwight has ONE defensive rebound and got it in the 1st Q???!!!

  71. Shame for Jamison – played a good game – bench players showed up.

  72. Not sure if this is the right way for D’Antoni to treat Pau. First play of the game Pau ran a set out the triangle for a DWight paint shot which he missed. Hasn’t been there since.

  73. The Grizzlies get so much space out of their screens, we don’t seem to get any. What are our guys doing wrong?

  74. Have you seen the last offensive rebound by Marc Gasol? That’s why Howard has only one defensive rebound. No effort.

  75. Not only was Jamison better on offense than Pau, he was better on D – a few cheap foul calls notwithstanding.

  76. A game after Kobe snipes Pau for being out of shape D’Anotni benches him the 4th. We’ll see how much they miss him when he’s gone.

  77. Still winless on the road. Damn shame.

  78. Well at least we are ahead of Sac in the division. Nice gut move by Mike D benching Par. Hand writing on the wall. He will be gone by Mid-December. Bank on itl

  79. Pau Gasol, 6 points and 4 rebounds, the usual for him this year.

  80. Lakers get close but unable to get a defensive stop to allow them to get closer. Howard and Pau did not have good games. Kobe Bryant is not happy, he was back in the locker room before the buzzer even rang.

  81. @ Serik – you are absolutely right, Dwight made no play on that rebound. Not sure what’s going on with him. He is either injured or doesn’t want to try. Not sure what is going on with this team, but it is deeply flawed.

    People who think Nash is going to solve this, dream on. Lakers just do not get enough stops to beat good teams. Nash is not going to fix that.

  82. jerke: I was wondering if this makes you “concerned”?

  83. Kobe chucking shots at the end to pad his stats while the guy responsible for bringing Lakers back to relevance takes all the blame when it’s a team wide thing. Sad.

    Dwight Howard has not been the player Lakers traded for. 2nd straight game where he’s been non exsistent. Not calling for the ball or grabbing rebounds. Doesn’t have the same build and is moving slower. The franchise player has to step up too.

  84. Lakers NEVER get the big stops anymore against the elite teams. WHY? Because they are not an elite team with great defense. They are a team of old stars, and a terrible bench, even though the bench was decent tonight.

  85. Howard has 11 FGA the last two games. Kobe’s +/- tonight is -22.

    Memphis shot over 50% from the floor.

  86. Absolutely hate it when Kobe goes into bricking shots in the 4th Q, offense was way too stagnant with the starting unit, the bench were actually a far more cohesive unit.

  87. Offense was the problem with Mike Brown many said. Lakers aren’t getting nearly the amount of FTs game by game or the post touches from the bigs in the run and gun offense. The offense wasn’t the problem. It’s depth and defense.

  88. First game all season the bench as a whole showed up, of course this will be the “great” coming out of tonight’s game. Yea, it is about time they do something.

  89. Lakers are still gonna be stuck w pau – no ones taking him off the Lakers till at least Feb. He looks off – not just bad conditioned but off. He played great ball this summer, but just isn’t there these past two games. Howard only showed up for spurts too – good to see D’antoni make use of the bench though – good to see them get some real time. A close loss to the best team in the league – not due to lack of talent – this was a lack of effort and lazy play (turnovers) that killed.

  90. well the good thing is Gasol got some needed rest. The bench actually didnt do that bad. Jamison finally played like we all thought he would. Meeks and duhon are not that bad. Morris is showing some nice development. Reason why we lost: poor defense and gasol and howard scoring a combined 13 pts and only 8 rebs. Is this team tired already or no effort?

  91. Relax robert – I may disagree w you but I don’t troll you. If things are horrible at 20 games then fine ill be concerned – prob is you’re not going to be able to fix this via personell movement – nobody is buying laker players at all. Improvement is going to have to come from within – and its not all on Pau – though he played like crap.

  92. Not sure why people are looking at Kobe. He and dare I say MWP are the only guys who show up game in and game out.

    Bricking shots at the end of the game??? Don’t act like we had any chance without some form of hero ball tonight. Lest we forget we were only within 6-10 due to crazy 3 point shooting including Kobe’s 2 in the 4th AND he got fouled on the 3rd one, no call. Can’t throw it to Dwight at the end of games, he is getting stripped regularly and can’t hit foul shots.

    Kobe had the ball most of the nigh and had 2 turnovers. Pau and Dwight had the ball 1/2 as long and turned it over 8 times. Enough said there.

  93. Kevin_
    Pau had plenty of time in Memphis to prove his relevance and never won a playoff game while being the man. The guy was a key piece of the puzzle for the Lakers last 2 championships, but stop with the ridiculous rhetoric about Pau. The guy is a great player, but **never** showed up when he was the alpha dog of his team. When he was playing 2A or sometimes 2B he was just fine.

    Having said that- Kobe’s 7/23 was pretty terrible. What’s going on with Dwight right now? I understand Pau because that’s just par for the course with him, but Dwight is beginning to worry me a bit. The lack of defense doesn’t appear to be getting any better. I can’t see this team getting past the second round of the playoffs if they don’t figure out how to play a little defense.

  94. Classic, D’Antoni was asked what he was thinking benching Pau for the 4th Q: he said he was thinking he wanted to win the game.


  95. Well said, Joe. Kobe has his first bad shooting game of the season, which we know there will be some, and fans are blaming the loss on his “chucking” up shots to pad his stats. Whatever. Why don’t we look at our awful PF? I don’t care what Pau did for us 3-4 years ago. Right now, he is garbage! Do I hope it changes? Of course. But I’m not so sure it will. And Dwight can’t have games where he’s non-existent, especially on D and on the boards. And please, stop getting stripped!!!

  96. Joe: You have to understand the value of guys like Lamar of old and Pau because the simple things don’t show up on the stat sheet. Keeping the ball moving doing what the coaches want and not caring about anything outside of winning. Pau has sacrificed his game over the past 3 years because it’s what’s best for the team. How good is the bench? How many lobs has Dwight gotten from somebody not named Pau? How many open 3s has Ron got off Pau passes? How many true team players are there in the league? Pau never requested a trade after he was traded and never complains outside of him not getting post touches. You don’t win titles without team players. I’ll admit the 19 mil salary is a bit much. But his contributions to the team can’t be found anywhere else.

  97. jerke: The roster is what it is. We can tweak our 8th and 9th men but we are not pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You are lumping me in with another group of people on this site. I am neither calling for or hoping for any trades. I am merely re-evaluating my thinking that we have a great roster. Based on the comments above, that still makes me one of the most optimistic people on this board : )

  98. Fair enough Robert – we agree to disagree on your level of optimisim and patience:) I won’t comment further on your posts, kindly do me the same:)