Crushing headaches do not mix with writing game previews. This is something I knew already, but am reminded of today as I try to type words onto a white screen reflecting light which might as well be Shinobi ninja stars being guided right into my eyeballs.

So, forgive the brevity.

The Lakers play the Jazz tonight in a return to Staples Center. After going 1-3 on a road trip which saw them play those four contests in five nights, the team is back in action after only a day off. The “rest” may help, but I doubt it. The first game back from a road trip can often be just like another road game. Players have to settle in, attempt to get back to their regular routines, and then get right back on the court to play basketball again. At least they get to sleep in their own beds.

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The Lakers cannot catch a break on the injury front. After leaving the Grizzlies game with a hamstring injury on Saturday, an MRI has confirmed a strain in the muscle per a team release. Calderon will be out 2-4 weeks, joining D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young as other guards who are not healthy enough to play.

Calderon had performed admirably as a fill-in starter for Russell, averaging 6 points and nearly 4 assists while shooting 47.8% from the field (42.1% from distance) in 17 minutes a night. These aren’t world beater numbers by any means and he had his (predictable) issues defensively, but considering he’d not been in the rotation at all following the first Hawks game early in the year, he did well to step in the way he did.

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Well, the Lakers fell short in a tale of two halves. The Grizzlies were able to trip up the Lakers in a game that ended in a wacky manner, 103-100.

Memphis was depleted as they were without Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Vince Carter, and James Ennis. The Lakers, who were playing their fourth game in five nights, were without Nick Young, D’Angelo Russell, and Larry Nance, Jr. Early in the game, Jose Calderon pulled up lame. He left the game with a right hamstring strain.

The pace was frenetic in the first half. The Grizzlies did their best to keep up as Troy Daniels (fourth-year player out of Virginia Commonwealth) had the green light to shoot from the outside. With Julius Randle in foul trouble, Lou Williams and Luol Deng (playing at the 4!) carried the scoring load. While Daniels surprisingly led the Grizzlies with 23 points, Lou was scorching with 28 points in the first half.

The Grizz slowed the game down and the Lakers, with the possible combination of fatigue and the Memphis defense, succumbed to a lot more isolation and one-on-one plays. Memphis was able to bear down and cause turnovers in the halfcourt. Still, Lou and Lu stayed hot in the fourth. Luol Deng played his best game as a Laker with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Lou Williams went for 40 points on 20 shots.

It was a little back and forth before Troy Daniels made a key three to give Memphis a four-point lead. Marc Gasol would follow it up with a sweeping hook before Williams made a three-point play. After a Grizzlies miss, Lou put up a quick three that missed badly with 20 seconds left on the game clock and 16 on the shot clock. In the ensuing possession, Deng stole the inbounds pass. Randle got fouled on a three-pointer by Gasol with 5.9 seconds left. Julius missed the first two free throws before missing the third on purpose. Still, the Lakers got the offensive board but Jordan Clarkson missed a corner three. Memphis got away with the win.

We can look at this as a schedule loss. They might have ran out of gas; we know how much the Memphis defense can take out of teams in addition to the Lakers playing their fourth game out of five nights. The Lakers only scored 38 points in the second half and only Timofey Mozgov scored double digits (13 points) other than Lou Williams and Deng. We hardly saw the ball movement that Coach Luke Walton preached in the second half. We all know the Grizzlies like the grit and grind. Grounded. Grimy. Gross. Growl. The Lakers turned the ball over 18 times.

You’re probably not familiar with most of the Grizzlies players other than Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. Gasol did a lot of playmaking (19 points, 8 assists). But you gotta watch guys like JaMychal Green (16 points, 13 rebounds), back-up point guard Wade Baldwin IV (7 points, 9 assists), and the aforementioned Daniels (31 total points!). Just because you’re not familiar with them doesn’t mean you should just leave them firing away. There were so many breakdowns defensively by the Lakers in the second half. It could be fatigue or whatever but Memphis is not going to blink an eye and feel sorry for them just because their opponents are tired.

Just remember that the Lakers got beat by this guy:

No disrespect intended, Troy. You played a hell of a game. For tonight, Elvis Presley is not the king of Memphis and neither is Jerry Lawler. It’s Troy Daniels.

It’s back to the Staples Center on Monday after a 1-3 road trip for the 10-12 Lakers. We’ll see if they can get it right against the Utah Jazz.

I’m going to keep this one short because, honestly, I’m as tired as the Lakers probably are. Well, that’s probably not true. Not when I remember that tonight’s game in Memphis will the Lakers’ 4th in 5 nights and has them traveling from Toronto where they were spanked on Friday by the Raptors. Before traveling to Toronto, the Lakers were in New Orleans and Chicago the two previous days, which, considering these are people who rely on performing athletic feats for a living, probably isn’t ideal.

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So this is one game you want to throw in the trash. The Raptors worked the Lakers, 113-80. The 80 points are a season-low for this young team.

All you needed to do was watch the first half. The Lakers were down, 15-4, at one point. They did cut it down to six by the end of the first but the Raptors shot the lights out in the next 12 minutes. Canada started out 16 for 19 in the second quarter, which I’m sure got Celine Dion singing. The Lakers never got it going on the offensive end and they got killed on the other side of the ball. Toronto took advantage of the Lakers hedging too far and had some ball movement that got L.A. chasing pretty much all night.

Even when Toronto came back to earth in their shooting, the Lakers couldn’t take advantage. L.A.’s turnovers certainly didn’t help; they had five in the third (16 overall). It resulted in an ugly third quarter which saw the Raptors barely win it, 15-14. That’s good for the Lakers in a close game but not so great when they were down 21 in the first half. The Raptors were back to burning the rim in the fourth and the Lakers never had a chance. T Dot never trailed in this contest.

While DeMar DeRozan (16 points) and Kyle Lowry (24 points) did their usual damage, Lucas Nogueira (13 points), Cory Joseph (14 points), and Norman Powell (16 points, and he replaced a resting DeMarre Carroll in the starting line-up) all took advantage of the Lakers’ porous defense. The Raptors shot over 54 percent. As for the Lakers? They can’t shoot under 35 percent, play poor defense, and expect to win. It doesn’t work like that. Also, hope that Larry Nance, Jr. is okay as he bumped knees late in the game.

The Lakers continue to get off to poor starts. In 21 games this season, they’ve only won the first quarter five times. Coming into the Raptors game, the Lakers were 27th in scoring (24.5 points per) and 26th in offensive rating (96.0 points per 100 possessions) in the first quarter. And we all know the team usually finishes strong. Maybe they need to make some tweaks in the starting line-up and put in some more scoring with Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell out. Brandon Ingram led the team in scoring with a career-best 17 points.

All you can do is move on to the next game. But at least, for the Lakers, it’s almost immediate as they travel to Memphis for a game tomorrow night. The Lakers are 1-2 in this current road trip and 10-11 overall. I guess it could be worse, right?

The Lakers improbably climbed back to .500 on Wednesday, beating the Bulls in an ugly game which saw both teams struggle to score. Of course, ugly wins count the same as the most beautiful ones so I’ll take the result happily. Underscoring/what led to the poor aesthetics was that the Bulls game offered some of the best defense the Lakers played all season. So, I guess if you’re 90’s Knicks era Pat Riley, you might have found the game to be prettier than most.

Wednesday is long gone, though. Or at least it needs to be when the Lakers are now in Toronto to play the Raptors on the first night of another back to back that has them in Memphis on Saturday. Regardless of how good the Grizz are (and with Mike Conley out, they are much worse than they were just a few days ago), that game will be the team’s 4th in 5 nights all in different cities while crisscrossing the continent (New Orleans to Chicago to Toronto to Memphis).

So, if the Lakers hope to go (at least) 2-2 on this trip, getting a win in Toronto is likely to be the best way to make that happen. Of course, considering the Raptors are 12-6 (2nd best in the East), that is easier said than done. When you consider their personnel and how they like to attack teams, the chances decrease further.

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A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a podcast between Zach Lowe and David Thorpe about early season trends. The premise was that after a couple of weeks we were starting to get some information about teams and both Lowe and Thorpe were discussing whether these things were “real”. It was a good listen and worth your time even though nothing about the Lakers was discussed.

The caveat to their discussion, though, was that teams had only played about 10 games — thus the question of whether things they were seeing were actually real. Both commented that after 20 games we would have a better idea about whether trends we were observing had staying power and that it might be good to check back in in a few weeks.

Well, guess what, we’re now at the 20 game mark for the Lakers. They are 10-10 after an ugly, but lovely win against the Bulls on the 2nd night of a back to back on Wednesday. Now that we’re at the quarter pole of the season, we have a better idea about what we actually know about this team. What are some of them? I’m glad you asked. Here’s 10.

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The Lakers got punched in the face by the New Orleans Pelicans last night. Not only that but they also lost Nick Young (for 2-4 weeks so it’s not as bad as we thought it was going to be). They already didn’t have D’Angelo Russell. But somehow, the Lakers pulled this one out against Chicago in a second game of a back-to-back, 96-90.

But this game was so ugly. I watch a lot of NBA games and this might be the ugliest one I’ve seen all season. In the first quarter, it felt like the Lakers were playing basketball underwater. They kept turning the ball over and this would go on all game. They were once down, 28-14. It looked like it was going to be a rout.

The Lakers bench came through as always, though, as Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Lou Williams, and Larry Nance, Jr. made plays on both ends. While it was frustrating that the Lakers couldn’t get over the hump in the second quarter, the fight that they showed was admirable (once again) as they looked dead in the water a bit earlier.

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