Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

Darius Soriano —  April 12, 2014

On Saturday night the Hawks beat the Heat, a win that knocked the Knicks out of the playoffs. That set up a crazy stat: for the first time in league history the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks all missed the playoffs. That stat doesn’t have much to do with anything, but it really does show how successful the Lakers have been over that time, since that stat really is on the strength of their playoff berths over the years — especially when you consider some of the down stretches the Knicks and Celtics have had.

The Lakers, of course, have known for some time that they wouldn’t be in the playoffs. They’ve become the team that has been trying to play spoiler for almost a month, attempting to drop teams down in the standings or knock them out of the race entirely. With the season almost over, their last chance to really do that is in tonight’s game when they face off with the Grizzlies.

As the Knicks were being eliminated, the Mavs were clinching their spot in the playoffs, leaving the Grizz and the Suns fighting for the final spot in the West field. Those two teams play each other on Monday, but the Lakers can do the Suns a big favor by knocking off the Grizz (or at least wearing them down on the first night of a back to back). As it stands right now, the Grizz have a half game lead on Phoenix, up a single game in the loss column. A Lakers’ win would even that up and give the Suns a chance to write their ticket into the playoffs with that win over the Grizz.

Of course, Memphis also understands this and should come out ready to play for their playoff lives in this game. They’ve won three of their last four games, including a big win over the Heat that has kept them in the race. A loss to the Lakers wouldn’t end their season, but it would put them in a bad spot with the Suns and the Mavs on the docket to close the year. The Grizz know that winning out gets them into the playoffs and gets them to the 7th seed. A let down against the Lakers — their easiest game left on the schedule — is something they cannot afford.

On the other end of the spectrum, and as it’s been lately, the Lakers are in a different kind of standings battle. A loss to the Grizzlies would tie the Lakers with the Celtics for the 5th worst record in the league and only a game behind the Jazz for the 4th worst record. The Celtics close against the 76ers and the Wizards while the Jazz close agains the Lakers and the Timberwolves. While the Lakers can’t control what the Celtics do, if the C’s get one more win while the Lakers lose out, there is a chance that the Lakers not only seal the 5th worst record but get all the way to the 4th spot in the lottery. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but it will be interesting to see how these final games go and how all three of these teams approach these final games that will determine the lottery odds.

In a way, it’s funny that this is what the season has come down to. Watching the scoreboard and wondering what other teams are doing, not because of how it affects the race for the playoffs or seeding, but how it affects the lottery. A year ago at this time the Lakers were closing the season on a nice run and played a meaningful game on the last night of the year that got them to the 7th seed in the playoffs. This year, on the 2nd to last game of the season we will see them play the Jazz in a game where the winner may negatively impact their draft position. Funny how much can change in 365 days.

As for the game against the Grizzlies, I will be watching two match ups. The first is when Jordan Farmar plays against Mike Conley. Conley is one of the more underrated point guards in the league and has been playing well to close the year as the Grizz have made their push to get into the playoffs. Farmar, when healthy, has actually had a very good year, shooting the ball well and showing he could be a decent creator in the P&R. Watching how he deals with Conley’s quickness offensively and his ability to be a pest defensively will be one of the better games within the game.

The 2nd match up will be watching how Jordan Hill matches up with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the middle. I still really enjoy Hill’s game and think he can be a solid contributor on a good team. But what has become more clear as he’s had to man the middle with Pau and Kaman out is that he has a hard time matching up with good, starting big men who aren’t easily out hustled or out muscled by him on the glass. Hill is a very good 3rd big man who can beat up on opposing second units and have some quality good minutes against some starters. But as a full time starter matching up with opposing starters for 30 minutes, he’s not going to be as productive. Against the Grizz he’ll face one of the better big man duos in the league and I will be watching closely to see if he can still make an impact with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on the other end of the floor.

Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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60 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Grizzlies

  1. Really hoping you write about the draft after the season ends. Need your thoughts on some of these guys, which I guess will be easier when you know where the Lakers will pick.

  2. Warren Wee Lim April 13, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Among everyone on our roster, only Jordan Hill has shown the ability to be a possible starter for our “next team.” Alot still depends on contract situation, his relationship w/ MDA and so, but he has given us big games and reason enough to retain him. His price will be determined.

    Nick Young is just so proud to be a Laker. We need more of him. I would try to lock him up for 2 more years, atleast a contract that spans beside Kobe.

    Those are the only two right now (and Farmar, a personal favorite) whom I would give more than a minimum contract for next season.

  3. Agreed WWL. Hill, Farmar and Young should be kept and all of them deserve more than the league minimum. However, I don’t think that Hill can be a starter in a good playoff team. I’m ok with him as the first big off the bench. Same goes for Young as the first wing off the bench. Farmar could be a starter in a good team, but he’s not there yet.

    Anyway, having those three guys as our 6th, 7th and 8th rotation players would be awesome. Now, we just need 4 guys to put around Kobe in the starting lineup and we have ourselves a playoff team. (I’m assuming Nash is done and Pau isn’t staying)

  4. On the game, I expect Z-Bo and Gasol to combine for something like 45 points and 33 rebounds against us. And that will be the game…

  5. Memphis will destroy us …. then we need a farmar hamstring strain so marshall can play 40mins with marshon getting like 40 mins against utah

  6. My random Laker thoughts on Sunday April 13th, 2014:

    -Has Jimmy & Jeanie learned enough from their 1st season “at the top” to realize they need to put egos aside and actually work together (w/ Mitch) if the Lakers are to return to prominence on the court in a timely fashion?

    -Is there ANYTHING Mitch, Jimmy & Jeanie B can learn that they don’t already know watching these last few Laker games?

    -Who’s identity will Laker fans know 1st? Our 1st round draft pick or next season’s coach.

    -Does Jimmy B have any regrets signing Kobe to that $48 million salary cap killing contract?

    -Does Kobe B have any regrets signing that “now I know I don’t have a shot in Hell of winning a 6th title here or elsewhere” $48 million contract?

    -Will next season’s Laker high points be limited to Kobe’s return & continued ascension on the NBA all time points record?

    -Where will Pau Gasol play next season?

    -With the exception of the Spurs, Western Conf teams 1 thru 11 are all expected to improve next season. Will the Lakers have a decent shot at a playoff spot or will Laker fans be more focused on draft picks & free agency? If so, as late as April, or as early as February?

    My random Laker thoughts for today…but it’s still early, more may be coming, lol.

  7. Wins do us no good, please please lose! 4th spot in the tankathon much better than 6th.

  8. I haven’t been a fan of tanking, but…
    With just a few games left it is a bit tempting to toy with the idea. The chasm between picking 4th and 6th could be vast.

    Imagine then for a moment this scenario for its comic potential (with Will Farrell of Loose Balls):
    Both the Jazz and Laker players have been strongly urged (read: financially incentivized) to lose game 81 (or game 82 for dramatic purposes).
    It starts with someone dribbling off their foot ‘accidentally,’ or an badly missed free throw.
    Then an oddly lazy pass. Then a ‘concession’ basket that’s a bit too obvious.
    Suddenly both teams realize what’s going on and
    another type of competition ensues.
    Who can be more awful!?
    So the passes get worse and the defense becomes completely non-existent, until players are actually feeding the OTHER TEAM’s cutters for layups. Haha.
    Suddenly play would stop.
    Farrell, who wasn’t in on the secret, and is naturally outraged, gives an impassioned speech about how ‘You should be ashamed of yourselves!’ The players look sheepish.
    True Competition ensues with players previously tanking soaring for dunks, making spectacular assists, etc.
    Ultimately the game finishes on a dramatic note with a buzzer-beater ending.
    Upstairs in his luxury suite, the owner, wearing a baseball cap of all things, gnashes his teeth and curses Farrell for winning while the fans cheer the victory.
    Hollywood endings?

  9. Warren Wee Lim April 13, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Some amazing stats coming at you w/ regards to the lottery.

    Assuming Lakers, Jazz and Celtics all end up at 25 wins, each team has 90 pingpong balls each for round 1. That means there is a 27% chance that one of the 3 teams win the 1st overall pick.

    If and when this is done, and none of the three make it to the top, the process is redone, only this time our odds increase to 29.4% or 98 balls per team.

    Same story, no one wins, we go in for the third (and last time) carrying 32.1% chance we win it. 107 balls per team.

    The tricky part is what happens next.

    Suppose the lottery goes like this:
    1. Philadelphia (from 2)
    2. Orlando (from 3)
    3. Milwaukee (from 1)

    The rest of the teams will then be given the order in which they will be picking according to record. In our example, all 3 teams are TIED with 25 wins apiece and thus coin flips will determine which team wins 4, after that more coin flips to determine who is 5 and then 6.

    Should one of the teams (Lakers, Celtics or Jazz) win one of the top 3 slots, the same number of odds are brought in but this time using the corresponding numbers per slot, divided by two.

    Its such a complicated process where the end result is all going to be decided by coin flips.

  10. Aren’t tie-breakers considered?
    For example, wouldn’t our season sweep of Boston put them ahead of us in the lottery if the two teams finish with identical records?

  11. Here’s a worse scenario WWL-
    1- Sac
    2- Phil
    3- Jazz
    4- Mil
    5- Orl
    6- LAL or Boston
    7- LAL or Boston

    There is a chance that the Lakers could be picking 7th or 8th depending on the ping pong balls. Now, if we finish with the 4th worst record *ahead of Boston or Utah, then we have a much better chance at picking 6th or better. We want a shot at the top five or six players in this year’s draft. Embiid, Wiggins, Parker, Exum, Randle. (Who am I missing? Smart?). My personal choice would be Wiggins, then Exum, and then Embiid. If we pick Embiid, then we should fire MDA imo.

    Btw…some of you are framing the narrative rather well about those of us who are cheering for better draft position. I am not cheering for the Lakers to lose. I’m cheering for the best path forward after this season. Which was over in January. There is zero difference between 25-57 or 27-55. I prefer the former because it gives us a better chance in the future. And, no, I don’t think the players do or would purposefully play in such a way to lose games.

  12. It totally mystifies me how I enjoyed bill Simmons book so much yet totally absolutely find myself annoyed w him as a studio presence (Doug Collins is the only saving grace for that studio show).

  13. Dan LeBatard on Riley and the Heat (with a lot of Phil and Lakers and Knicks thrown in).

    It is a puff piece and very pro-Heat, but has some interesting factoids:

  14. The idea that players would intentionally perform poorly unless specifically paid to do so is laughable because they don’t stand to benefit.
    Most aren’t even guaranteed a roster spot next season. Their next contracts will be based on performing well, not incompetently. So their future livelihood depends on it.
    The laws of the universe prohibit player participation in a tank without a direct financial incentive, which would be truly scandalous.

  15. jerke,

    Simmons IMO is not very good on TV/radio/podcasts in part simply because he doesn’t have the speaking voice for it. Also, IMO Simmons’ knowledge of NBA history and passion for the game really came through in the book, but he is not much of an analyst in short bytes like you want on TV. Give me Hubie Brown or Jeff Van Gundy on TV, or Shaq and C-Webb being goofy in studio.

  16. J C: To answer your question about a draft tiebreaker (works differently than a playoff position tiebreaker):

    In the event that teams finish with the same record, each tied team receives the average of the total number of combinations for the positions that they occupy. In 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Portland Trail Blazers tied for the sixth worst record. The average of the 6th and 7th positions in the lottery was taken, resulting in each team getting 53 combinations (the average of 63 and 43). Should the average number not be an integer, a coin flip is then used to determine which team or teams receive the extra combination(s). The result of the coin flip is also used to determine who receives the earlier pick in the event that neither of the tied teams wins one of the first three picks via the lottery.


  17. Daily News

    Report: Los Angeles Lakers Looking for ‘Peaceful’ Way to Part with Mike D’Antoni

    I will personally pick him up in a limo with a nice bottle of wine and drive him to the border, if that helps.

  18. Lol Ko. I will pitch in for the limo ride!

  19. Ko & KenOak,

    I’ll make sure that his luggage is thoroughly packed.

  20. Ill make sure my people in tj take him to red light district.

  21. I will personally pick him up in a limo with a nice bottle of wine and drive him to the border, if that helps.
    what I´m wodering is if you´re gonna put up the partition and ignore him, or if you´ll be haranguing him all the way down to TJ? ; D

  22. Is there a better guy to make a hard run at in FA then Lance Stephenson? Triple post skills, great defender, unselfish, durable, gives no quarter. Young, improving, long arms, thick torso and legs, great lateral movement and ability to change directions. Spirited to a fault (some might say knucklehead tendencies). Sees the floor like a point guard, creates for teammates by attacking and dishing. An all-star future.

    Overpay a bit to secure his services. High price two-year deal or four year deal at the market rate. Can always trade him (part of the acquiring assets approach we need to have chips) if we need cap room for a max contract. He plays the two, Kobe moves to the three. A backcourt of Lance, Farmar, Bazemore and maybe Blake gives the team the perimeter quickness to make up for Kobe and Pau’s declining defense (yes, I think Pau is resigned). Oh yeah; he had his league leading fifth triple double today against OKC.

  23. Nice write-up, Darius.

    LOL, on posts.

    JC-you hit the nail on the head with your last post.

  24. Jordan Hill had a migraine headache this morning but Coach D’Antoni expects him to be fine by game time. If he can’t go, Sacre will start.

    Wonder what could have caused that?

  25. With this roster …I am surprised the Lakers have won as many games as they have…Sacramento’s big 3 are better then the Lakers top 3…{not counting Kobe and Gasol)…..D.A. did something right…This roster right now is really bad….

  26. Nick Young with a highlight 360 reverse layup. That was nice.

  27. That reverse layup by Nick Young was oh so pretty!! Dare I say Kobesque?

  28. Nick young is coming back next year.
    He really has some talent and loads of Laker pride.

  29. One of my biggest disappointments this year is Wesley Johnson. He’s got so much talent. He should be a much more productive player. Granted, he’s overmatched most nights at the 4 in MD’A world.

  30. These guys are not very good.

  31. 0 for last 16 and 10 minutes without a point.

    Can they bring this group back next year?


  32. Phewwww

    Glad that’s over.

  33. I’d like to see Dantoni literally get the old-fashioned ‘hook’ during his post game interview like in the old vaudeville days.
    …where they hook him around the neck and drag him from the podium.

  34. I have said this before, but it bears repeating…Kendall Marshall makes up his mind to pass and then the other team can play for the turnover. He is such an outstanding passer, and can really read the floor, but his inability to recreate on the fly dooms any real chance to get off the end of the bench – even if he learns to shoot better and becomes passable at team defense (he is not capable of average man-to-man defense).

  35. Normal…too much punctuation I guess.

  36. The Lakers got outrebounded by 20 tonight.

    Ryan Kelly in 24:29 had 1 rebound. One. Robert Sacre in 30:46 had 2. So…in 55:15 together they had 3 rebounds. There are point guards in the league who rebound better than that.

    Also, the Lakers attempted 27 3-pt. shots, 12 more than Memphis. And they lost by 12. (The game was really not that close.)

    This bombs away philosophy clearly has not worked this year. I hope and pray that next year will be different.

  37. And John Ireland asks the same postgame question to everyone for the ten thousandth time. You did blah blah blah in the x half/quarter, and then blah blah blah in the y half/quarter. “What changed?”

    …And what should be the obvious answer: “Well duh, John. We couldn’t keep up the good shooting. Then the other team stepped it up, and we have no defense to stop them. What we do well is not sustainable, and any idiot should see it and stop asking us the same stupid question after every %#$%ing loss this season.”

  38. Come on Mid.
    Sacre has it all!

  39. For the pingpong balls and draft picks, if 2 teams have the same record, is there a tie breaker, or to the 2 teams have the same pingpong balls?

    What if both of the teams are out of the top 3 drafts for pingpong balls, then is there a tie-breaker (like seed rankings for postseason teams), or is it some random coin flip?

    (Looking at Boston and LA now)

  40. Casual Fan,
    I think a detailed answer is above. 1) The total ping-pong balls for the two positions are totaled, then split in half for each team. 2) A coin flip.

  41. rfen: John Ireland should be removed forever. He is an insult to the human intellect.

  42. Phewwww

    Glad that’s over.

    Come Wednesday night, at around 10:30pm est (Resident of NYC), your words up above will reflect my exact sentiments in regards to this entire season. And I can guarantee that I won’t be the only individual within our FB&G community who’ll be feeling this way.

  43. After Wednesday’s loss (hopefully), Pringles should be fired along with his brother right there in san Antonio and not allowed to fly back to LA. Or can him lane kiffin style on the tarmac when the plane lands! John Ireland is just terrible, whether its calling the game, asking post game questions, or hosting the sports talk show.

  44. Ah! New meat…the need to find new victims to hate spreads. I wonder where it will all end. It used to be we only hated Luke Walton; how times have changed.

  45. When asked by Ireland ‘what changed’ between first half and second half, one player (Marhshall?) answered, “the other team made adjustments; that’s what good teams do.”
    I don’t think he even meant it to be an indictment of Dantoni but it was like childlike honesty pointing out the Emperor’s new clothes.

    I personally don’t mind Ireland and when he frames the ‘what changed’ question repeatedly I think he’s making a point, as in, wtf is the problem here? And he keeps asking it because he really wants to know – and is curious if anyone on the team can offer an intelligent explanation.
    Mike Mumbles can’t.

  46. Come on guys ease off on Ireland. He works for the Lakers! What do you want him to ask ?

    “So Kendall you shoot like a girl, your slower then a one legged elephant and your coach must be giving you all vertigo at halftime because you play the 3rd quarter like your dizzy”.

    I don ‘t think TW would be pleased. Listen to him 12 to 3 on 710 radio and you will hear him bash the Lakers as hard as any of us. He a Newport Beach guy(like me) a UCLA grad and a Laker fan for 40 plus years.

    We have much bigger problems then John Irelands soft interviews after games.

    2 games away from AXE time!

  47. ko
    i agree about ireland
    but technically i think he works for espn radio, yeah?
    not the team?
    yeah he’s pretty good on 710 daytimes
    he keeps things PC though

  48. Ireland is not great, but he is fine. Someone had to come after Chick Hearn.

  49. Wistful article from Shelburne on the end of the season:

    And an interesting note:

    “Die-hard Lakers fans, such as Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Flea, who showed up and made sure to stay until the bitter end. So too did future lottery pick Joel Embiid, who sat two seats away from Flea in a courtside seat across from the Lakers’ bench.”

  50. Sans Kobe Lakers are at historic lows.Kobe hating gentlemen must be very happy.

  51. I really like this Aaron Gordon kid. Gots a feeling he will be one of our choices.

  52. Well, I never hated Luke Walton. He was overpayed but he was a fundamentally sound basketball player who actually tried hard and cared about winning. He was betrayed by his body and it’s not his fault that we offered him that contract…

    I think we need a thread for most hated Lakers of all time (by Lakers fans) and we shouldn’t be able to vote on current coaches/players/FO personnel.

  53. JC,

    For me its the other way around. I can listen to Ireland during games no problem. Of course, I liked Spero Dedes more. But Ireland is fine calling games. But on the radio show? Him and Shelburne are Lakers PR mouth pieces. I totally get why. That is their bread and butter. But Steve Mason makes that show IMO. He shoots pretty straight. As a fan I appreciate that. John Ireland and Ramona Shelburne are Lakers cheerleaders.

  54. Aside from Luke’s game, it was the circumstances surrounding Luke that led to so much frustration ….. his contract, starting over Ariza, arguing with Laker fans who thought Luke was a solid NBA player, etc……. but hate is too strong a word. The three most frustrating Lakers to watch for me were Luke Walton, Kwame and Terry Teagle. Teagle was the ball hogging version of Nick Young.

  55. Ha, ha…a note of sarcasm and I am taken literally. I guess I just can’t put down anyone on this thread. Well – let’s be friends then, but friends with different opinions and different perspectives. IMO, our front office has never been particularly bad, aka the New York Knicks. They have made mistakes, but all front offices do – that is in the nature of sport, the draft, and trades. What is different today is that large money franchises can’t buy their way out of their mistakes and the CBA also severely restricts franchises once they reach the tax line – all in the service of equality.

    Now I sort of agree with Colin Cowherd, that dynasties are actually the lifeblood of any sport and, if you destroy dynasties, you will destroy much of the appeal of a sport – equality tends to destroy dynasties. Dynasties allow for both the followers and the haters to vent their feelings and they add to ratings – a necessary adjunct to any professional sport. The interesting thing about the NBA is that the most successful dynasty of the last 15 years – the Spurs – not only doesn’t fit the normal mode, but they also don’t get the ratings. Perhaps there really is something about this thing called stars. If so, then perhaps the Lakers should pursue a star to follow Kobe, whether or not they actually win a championship – ah, I see another thread there.

  56. I think we need a thread for most hated Lakers of all time (by Lakers fans)


    Agree with LT Mitchell that hate’s a little strong (well, a lot strong) but I found Glove highly annoying. The situation was tense enough that season without him adding fuel to the fire with his pouting about minutes.

  57. R,

    Of course, there’s always our friend DH. Fans luv 2 hate on him. I prefer to move on.

  58. Can’t say I hate DH.

    All he did for the Lakers last year was lead the league in rebounding and – I think – FG percentage.

    I don’t even blame him for leaving!

    And yes, Mid-Wilshire, agree its best for us fans to move on …

  59. R,

    As far as I can tell the only player in history to ever be booed by his own fans whenever he touched the ball was Kwame Brown in a game against Phoenix in 08.

    That’s hate.

  60. I hated Smush Parker. Can’t quite explain why. I just did.