Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Phillip Barnett —  April 5, 2013

Records: Lakers 39-36 Grizzlies 51-24
Offensive ratings: Lakers 107.7 Grizzlies 105.2
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.6 Grizzlies 100.8
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Injuries: Lakers: Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Jordan Hill
Grizzlies: Tony Wroten

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are coming off one of their best and complete wins of the season over the Dallas Mavericks. The Shot distribution between their three main guys — Kobe, Dwight and Pau — was about where you’d like it to be. Kobe had 18, Dwight 13 and Pau 12, and they recorded 23, 24 and 14 points respectively. Instead of increasing his shot volume, Kobe did other things, and he did them very well. Kobe finished with 11 assists and 11 rebounds. Furthermore, other guys stepped up huge on a night where they were down to pretty much a seven-man rotation. Steve Blake had a solid night hitting his spot up jump shots as they became available and Earl Clark had a great night off the bench with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He was much more aggressive than he had been in recent weeks, and after seeing a few shots fall, seemed more confident in the game against the Mavericks than he had looked in the whole month of March.

The Grizzlies Coming in: The Grizzlies come in playing some good, but not their best basketball of the season. They’re coming into tonight’s game in Los Angeles with a four game winning streak with some decent wins. Their last game was in the Rose Garden where they won by 18 over the Trailblazers. Before that, they defeated the Spurs (minus Ginobili) at home, the Timberwolves on the road and the Rockets at home. In those four games, the Grizzlies were awfully stingy on the defensive end of the floor, only allowing 86.5 points per game during their four-game winning streak. On the offensive end of the floor, they’ve been playing a very calculated game and doing a great job of taking care of the ball, turning the ball over fewer than 12 times per game.

Grizzlies Blogs: Make sure you check out 3 Shades of Blue for all of your Grizzlies news and analysis. They do a great job over there.

Keys to game: For tonight’s game, the Lakers are really going to have to focus on rebounding the ball. The Lakers are third in the league in rebounds per game at 44.8 per game as a team, but the Grizzlies rebound much better at a much higher rate. The Grizzlies have the second highest rebound percentage (percentage of all rebounds grabbed per game) and have the league’s second highest rebound differential. So the Lakers may grab more per game, but there are more opportunities to grab rebounds in games that Lakers play in. In the two previous games that the Lakers and Grizzlies faced off in, the Grizzlies won the rebound battle by an average margin of 10 boards a contest — so crashing the boards against the likes of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol is going to be crucial.

Offensively, ball movement and player movement is going to be crucial as the Lakers don’t have a legitimate advantage in any one-on-one situation. Marc and Randolph match up with the Lakers front court of Pau and Howard as any team in the league, as they’re big, physical guys who aren’t afraid of contact and are disciplined within the scheme of the team defensive principles. On the perimeter, the Grizzlies now have two guys who they can rotate on Kobe — and they have to be two of the guys who have been the most successful on Bean over the years. The Grizzlies got rid of Rudy Gay and brought in Prince, whose length has bothered Kobe’s ability to get off his jumper for years. Tony Allen is one of the league’s best on ball defenders, mainly due to his physical nature, strength and lateral quickness. With every great defender, Kobe has had some great games against both of these guys, but the Lakers can’t game plan hoping that Kobe goes off. Guys like Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark are going to have to have big games by their standards for the Lakers to be successful as they’re the two best moving off the ball.

Defensively, keeping Mike Conley out of the paint is going to be crucial. Without Nash starting, the Lakers might be able to do a better job tonight as Blake is a slightly better on ball defender — and definitely more tenacious than Nash ever has been. And if they can’t keep Conley out of the paint, Kobe (and the rest of the perimeter defenders) is going to have to have another good night staying disciplined off the ball. Darius wrote about Kobe’s off the ball defense in Dallas, and the Lakers are going to need a repeat performance from Bean — who has been a good defender when he’s wanted to be. Outside of Conley and staying home on shooters, both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph can hurt the Lakers anywhere from the rim to 15 feet out, so both Pau and Dwight will have to work hard and will have their hands full all night.

Where you can watch: 7:30 pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Phillip Barnett

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88 responses to Preview and Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Kobe Alert: Against the Mavs, Kobe recorded his 19th triple-double. He is 4th amongst active players (Kidd, LBJ, Hill). He also moved into a tie with Elvin for 6th all time in FGs. His 11 dimes allowed him to cruise by Avery Johnson and into 32nd. He needs 6 defensive rebounds to catch Dave Cowens for 59th. He needs just 835 points to catch MJ for 3rd. That is most likely a next year thing, as 7 * 81 only yields 567. Thanks to bryan S, rr, Chearn, Tra, Snoopy, and PurpleBlood for the shout outs.

  2. Thanks for the alert Robert. This is going to be a tough, tough weekend. This game is more important than the Dallas game and the one after this one will be more important and so on, the last time the Grizzlies played the Lakers, Howard wasnt playing at the level he is now. I think we have a great shot on winning both games given the sense of urgency the Lakers have. On a side note OKC is 1/2 behind the Spurs for the top spot, if OKC gets the top seed, we are royally screwed, i rather take my chances with SA without Manu. Crossing my fingers that SA hang on. Other than that, GO LAKERS!!!!!!!

  3. Pelicans of NOLA giving UTA a run at half.

    Surreal to even think it….moreso to post it.

    How weird a season is it….to be scoreboard watching and pulling for a bottom-feeder to win one for your team? I guess this is what it has been like to be Jazz, Rocket, and Milwaukee fans for the past few years.

    (Sigh)

    Go Lakers.

  4. Hate typing on phones lol opps

  5. Well mindcrime despite all the struggles and all those heartbreaking games i think this is the most dramatic season in the last 30 years, not counting the championship ones of course. Not a dull day.

  6. Thanks, for the Kobe Alerts, Robert.

    PB said it best the Lakers need to beat this team on the boards and prevent them from getting second opportunity points.

    Let’s see if Pau can get the better of his brother this game, if memory serves me right last game ‘little brother’ destroyed the Lakers two 7-footers. Pau is going out of his way to prove that he and Dwight can co-exist.

    At this juncture, the Lakers must rely on their own abilities to snag the 8th spot. The Lakers can’t count on other teams to get them into the playoffs.

    Let’s go Lakers! Let’s build off the past games chemistry.

  7. It’s not a ‘Preview and Chat’ without a ‘Kobe Alert’ ..

    Definitely looking forward to this one. Conley is the individual who needs to be marked, IMO.

  8. Meeks clunk

  9. Kobe Alerts Rule

  10. Laker D has been….tolerable so far. Which is a big improvement.

  11. Duke!!!!!!!! Hey Mom I’m getting paid!

    We need to get Dwight some touches, so he’ll be motivated to make multiple efforts on the defensive end.

  12. Let’s go E-Clark.

  13. Kobe with two good moves to get two layups, good quarter for the Lakers.

  14. Earl Clark looks like he may be “pushing through” the wall, at least during the last five quarters of ball.

    Pau looks like he came ready to match up with little bro tonight.

    Kobe looks like he’s planning to get less than a minute of rest again.

  15. Please get Meeks out and Clark in.

  16. Nice 1st half but our 10 turnovers keeping the Griz in the game.

  17. Come on Blake settle down!

  18. What the heck. Blake just terrible passing. Another 3rd sleep walk?

  19. And just like that, 13 pt. lead down to 1. Every freakin game! Does this team ever learn?? Smh

    I swear, we could be up 20 with 2 minutes left and the opponent would still think they had a shot to win. And sadly, they would be right. Unbelievable. Turnovers just killing us.

  20. Funky Chicken April 5, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Hard to imagine Duhon being any worse than Blake tonight.

  21. Brutal night for Blake… 5 turnovers, 2 assists.

  22. Meeks is garbage. Zero points, bad defense, stupid plays. Wake up Mike!

  23. well this is a pretty disastrous start to the second half. gotta stop turning the ball over

  24. Memphis figured out what Lakers were doing to get up 13 and clamped down. Time for Lakers to adjust.

  25. this is just ridiculous. blake is awful tonight on both ends of the floor.

  26. Terrible start to the second half, turnovers hurting and leading to easy points. Nothing working for the Lakers right now.

  27. When you have guys playing like garbage why do you leave them in. Difference in coaching. One makes adjustment at half the other combs his mustache.

    14 to 1 run you genius Mike.

  28. Blake & Meeks a combined 0-5 line tonight with 5 turnovers.

  29. Dwight gets absolutely no love from the officials…

  30. Man! SB really needed that 3. Hope this builds his confidence back up from whatever low it was.

  31. It appears as though the Lakers watched some scoreboards during halftime. They know that the Jazz won and the Lakers are a half game out of the 8th spot.

    Kobe Bryant! Plenty of players on the Lakers make big bucks, but none have the heart of the Mamba. Kobe looks exhausted.

  32. Wow … this has to be one of the most schizo quarters I’ve ever seen. Sleepwalking through the first 6 minutes, scoring like 1 point, then suddenly looking like world beaters in the second.

  33. There we go. Gotta give the team credit for buckling down and at least re-establishing the halftime lead. Most games, when they blow a big lead, that’s that.

  34. Ball sure moves better with Dwight out.

  35. Is it just me but does this team thrive under adversity?

  36. Kobe is exhausted!!!!!

    MDA needs to play Earl the entire 4th quarter. I don’t know if the Duke can play at a high octane level for that long of a stretch, but he sure can’t be worse than Jodie.

    Come on Mamba move the ball around. I know you’re frustrated about the bi-polar personality of this team. But, you’re playing into the Grizzlies hands.

  37. We have out shot them, out rebounded and hit more free throws. Unfortunately we also lead in turnovers 15 to 6. Tighten that up and we win this game.

  38. Earl Clark with a fantastic block.

  39. How long does this fool going to keep Meeks in there. How can he be this stupid. 0 for 5 missing every shot.

  40. What a block by Earl!!!

  41. Will the Lakers ever learn that Howard is more motivated to make an extra effort on defense when he is involved offensively?

    When Clark plays extended minutes he loses his efficiency. This summer he needs to work on his stamina.

    Good shot Blake!

  42. He went fishing or something but Earlsanity is back.

  43. Very intelligence player that Dwight.

  44. Dwight is such a frustrating player to watch. Often in foul trouble, and so many of his fouls are just completely unnecessary.

  45. That off the ball play for Kobe sure looked like a set from the Princeton offense.

  46. MDA needs to design a few plays so that at the start of the game Dwight can catch a couple lobs. He plays animated on defense when he scores a couple of easy plays.

    MDA can use his timeouts in the 4th quarter to get his team some extra rest. Particularly, Kobe.

  47. How many absurd shots has Kobe made in this game.

  48. Funky Chicken April 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Win or lose, playing Kobe this many minutes ensures that the season ends within a month, because Mamba will run out of gas.

  49. I mean really, what do the Lakers work on in practice when they have three days between games at home? The most disconcerting thing about this team is that they are not improving on either side of the court. And their core offensive plays are the pick n roll, the horn set and Kobe create some offense for your team or yourself.

  50. MDA has them do mustache stroking drills.

  51. YES, Kobe to Pau for 2

  52. Don’t screw it up Pringles! Memphis is such a well coached team. I am jealous.

  53. Now is the time to lock in on defense.

    Mamba is exhausted. Indeed, Earl has played the entire 4th quarter.

    Kobe shot too soon, he had another 9 seconds.

    DEFENSE!!!!

  54. I don’t remember Kobe looking this gassed. He was practically limping, wheezing back to the bench on that timeout.

  55. Do we milk the clock or go 2 for 1? What would Phil do.

  56. Time for a huge defensive stand.

  57. 3 chances to go up by 3 and don’t. i just don’t understand their game plan. kobe going into hero for no reason.

  58. That was the play you designed genius? How about penetration or a pick. Worst coach in the NBA by far.

  59. Good shot by Kobe; just happened to miss it.

    One stop.

  60. These free throws are Huuuggggeee!

  61. Please put Kobe on Conley. Please!

  62. Great win!

  63. Lakers bear down and win.

  64. Get meva doctor please!

  65. The Lakers are the proverbial Cat with 9 Lives. How many do they have left?

  66. Sadly, Kobe will have nothing left for the playoffs.

  67. 18 turnovers against the Griz and we still win. Unbelievable.

  68. Funky Chicken April 5, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    They didn’t appear to try to foul on the last possession. Worked this time, but with 4 seconds and a foul to give, you have to foul a PG who dribbles as long as Conley did. Instead, they basically gave him a layup.

  69. Kobe giving interviews with his hands on his knees. Even Kobe gets tired sometimes.

  70. Lakers match up better with a slow, grinding team like the Grizz than a fast, high energy team like the Nuggets. Good, solid win.

    Clips have been falling apart recently so hopefully the win streak will continue.

  71. Lakers won against one of the toughest teams in the NBA minus 2 starters, with Kobe dead tired Dwight in foul trouble and people still whine. Earlier in the season this was a loss, lot of grit on this win.

  72. I hope steve nash comes back soon. Cant have kobe playing 47 minutes per game.

  73. why stop at worst coach in the NBA by far, why not worst coach in the history of professional sports?

  74. 23-11 sinc

  75. Good to see that we can beat a team the caliber of Memphis with Dwight being relatively a non-factor (9 pts and 1 blk) and with us getting basically nothing from our starting backcourt.

    Turnovers almost doomed us (particularly in the 3rd quarter), but in the end, we beat them at their own game. We were able to Grind it out.

  76. Do you guys even saw the post game interview by MDA? He said that he told Kobe and Blake to foul if nesessary because they had a foul to give, but the last play happened too fast.

  77. Nobody mention how good the Lakers D was the entire game. Everything is whinning about this or that, get a grip people.

  78. Fern,

    No interest in saying positive things. Whining is so much more cathartic and makes you seem so much more intellectually rigourous. a real “buck starts here” kind of guy!

  79. Im just saying enjoy the win at this point a win is a win no matter how it happens. Im past the nitpicking phase. Im on the support the te no matter what phase now. But to each his own.

  80. Harvey–Nice. I always appreciate your unique style of saying “get a grip people….”

    Before we chalk this up as another win “in spite of” MDA (or some other scapegoat), how about some perspective. (And full disclosure–I too love calling MDA “Captain Pringles” –though I suspect more affectionately than some others)

    This is a pretty good win folks. MEM is a 50-win team that would be in second place in the East. They have been playing pretty well lately, and have played good “D” all year. Against a team like this, you are going to go through stretches of the game where your offense looks bad. There is, after all, another team out there trying to stop you, and MEM has the pieces to thwart much of what LA wants to do (i.e., good “Kobe stopper” type players in Prince and Allen who can play on an island, big physical interior players to negate LA’s size, etc.)

    Frankly, even if it looked like “hero” ball by Kobe, I thought the last shot he took was a pretty good look at a shot he makes far more often than he misses. I thought it was a good decision, and if that is what MDA drew up, then I’m ok with it.

    Meanwhile, for those that say this team isn’t getting any better, LA has now strung together 11 quarters of above-average to pretty damn good defense. (I refuse to say “exceptional” about this team’s defense) When things got crappy in the third quarter, LA avoided getting run off the floor by sticking in there on “D” when the offense was struggling.

    And MDA called some timely TO’s in that stretch.

    MDA makes me scratch my head at times, especially his rotations, but there are a good number of variables other than “head coaching decisions” that have put this team in the position it’s in.

    To sum up—enjoy the win for pete’s sake. It doesn’t prove the team is fixed–quite to the contrary–this game featured all of LA’s flaws. But this was probably a loss a few months ago. The team is at least exhibiting some toughness now.

  81. Just back from Staples. Odd, but very exciting game. What was striking to me is the degree to which Mem ignored Zach and Marc in the paint down the stretch. I mean, you have Randolph in the block against Pau and you don’t run the offense through him at all, instead encouraging your guards to shoot 18-20 footers? I read a lot of this kind of criticism here about the Lakers, usually spiced with some hyperbolic notion that MDA is an ‘idiot’ or something equally specific. Well, imagine being a Grizz fan this evening and seeing your advantages turn to dust…

    Lakers worked so hard on defense tonight. This team, which for so much of the season has played without heart like some kind of entitled goliath, has really impressed me the last few games…

    I think they need(ed) to win 4 out of their last 7 to make the playoffs. This was an enormous first step and means (in my opinion) they could now make the playoffs by beating NO, GS, HOU and one of @ PORT, SA, @CLIPS. If UTAH forces them to be better than this, then I fear they are doomed.

  82. Good points Mind.

    Seems unfair that 8 of the best 9 teams in the NBA are in the West. This could be one of the biggest Laker challenge in many years. Kobe is behind great and Pau has been better every game. Sunday will be a war.

  83. Mindcrime,

    Thanks…there is a really good article about MDA on ESPN by Dave Mcmenamin, but not surprisingly the comments are around 20 to 1 negative on MDA. So as usual its not easy to be off the beaten track..

    Missed most of the game, but sounds like it was a good effort by the team and perhaps there was just a bit too much hero ball at the end. Impressive result nonetheless, considering how short handed the team was.

    Even with the bad start this team would have been in a pretty good position but for that bad 4 L’s in 5 spurt around the time when Kobe and Pau were out, and then came back very rusty. As for MDA, the guy is for sure unconventional and therefore receives the brunt of frustrated fans as his decisions (which by the way, even I don’t support universally), defy the logic which the fan base has been force fed by the conventional media. In the article, he says they are running an offence which doesn’t even remotely resemble anything he would have been running, but says if he wants the team to be unselfish, he needs to do the same, and lead by example by not force feeding his “system” on the team, and effectively coaching out of his comfort zone, for the good of the team. He had no training camp, got not one of his coaching staff, (except his brother) and not even one single roster add to help compliment his preferred style of play. He had to adopt holus bolus, the mess that was left after MB, with not one ounce of concessions to his own preferences in coaching staff or players. and then he had to play the better part of half a season with an extremely compromised Dwight, and without and NBA level point guard, not to mention the other issues he faced. Basically was hung out to dry.

    Also think he deserves some credit for when things go right, but there are very few posters here who are interested in pointing out the positive. I guess that goes with the “greatest disappointment” in NBA history byline, so many are enjoying contemplating.

    Overall, I think the fans miss out on the yin and yang of his decisions. By playing a shorter rotation yes there is a chance that fewer get rest and fewer are available when injured, but it tends to get good results out of the 5-9 guys in the rotation, who but for the shorter rotation could be looking at situations where they aren’t getting enough minutes and the vote of confidence from the coaching staff to get comfortable and “in rythym” and as a result, underachieve. Don’t think anyone can be anything but pleasantly surprised by the results Dantoni has gotten out of Metta, Jamison, Clark, Blake and Meeks, the part of the roster that is clearly a bit more “coachable”, Metta aside.

  84. Friend of mine bought a grocery store. Sales were down 35% in the first year and lost money for the first time. I suggested he fire the manager who had nothing but excuses. Finally he did and sales are back up.

    Lakers are fighting for THE 8th position with a $130 million dollar payroll. Stop with the excuses, stop with patting MD on the back for ONLY taking 60 games to adjust the offense. He failed badly in New
    York for a reason and was fired. Same team different coach 2nd in the West.

    Good coaches find a way to win. Bad coaches only win because the players take control. Top coach here and this team wins 50 plus with all the excuses and injuries. MD coaches Griz or Chicago they don’t make the playoffs running his old offense.

    Zero chance MD and Dwight are both here next year. Ask his agent. Lakers are wining because of Kobe and in spite of the coach.

  85. Meant 2nd in the East.

  86. blake had a bad game but hit some key 3’s down the stretch…hes become a legitimate outside threat….meeks has to hit those wide open ones…just a couple a quarter from our guards would do wonders for our bigs and KB in terms of forcing honest D…jamison been playing like a man as well…what a season

  87. Harvey M i read that article and is spot on, your comments on it too, you get it, its horribly unfair to put everything that had happenned on MDA, i mean if that job wasnt basically a set up for failure scenario i dont know what can be. It took him a while but i think he is doing a pretty good job the last 2 and a half months.People here myself included sometimes tend to forget that the team is 23-11 since it hit that 17-25 rock bottom.