After losing to the Timberwolves on Christmas Day, the Lakers have now dropped 3 games in a row and 6 of their last 7 games. Lonzo Ball remains out with his sprained shoulder as does Brook Lopez with his sprained ankle. With Brandon Ingram missing the last 2 games due to tendonitis in his quad, this team is banged up and thin in a way which dramatically lowers their ability to compete over the course of a full game.
At one point in the 4th quarter, Luke Walton deployed a lineup with Tyler Ennis, Alex Caruso, Corey Brewer, Larry Nance Jr., and Julius Randle. If you’re counting at home, that’s 4 non-scorers/offensive creators and Julius Randle. This group was promptly outscored and the game was basically never the same. Shocking, I know.
Getting back to today, the Lakers actually face a team that is, at least record-wise, worse off than them. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently 10-24 and lost on Tuesday night in Phoenix on a last second alley-oop dunk by Tyson Chandler out of a sideline out of bounds play. If all that sounds sort of ludicrous, it is. There was really only one type of shot that could have beat the Grizz in that situation and…they gave up that exact shot.
Maybe it’s coincidence, but did I mention the Grizz fired their head coach earlier this year?
Memphis also remains without point guard Mike Conley and with every loss you have to imagine the seeds of discontent in Marc Gasol only blossom further. When Gasol signed his massive extension, the Grizz were a perennial playoff team and one of the tougher outs in a bloodbath of a western conference. Now the Grizz aren’t even going to make the playoffs, have fired their coach, and let Z-Bo and the Grindfather (Tony Allen) walk in FA for nothing. This is not what he signed up for.
So, what do we make of this game? You got me. Seriously. Memphis is bad, banged up, and coming off a back to back where they lost on the final shot to another bad team. The Lakers are also bad, banged up, and even though they’ve been competing you have to imagine the toll of losing and fluctuating rotations are starting to take their toll.
At least the Lakers are at home? Will that be enough? It may have to be, all things considered.
I will say, though, that this stretch where the Lakers played a banged up Portland team, the Wolves (in LA on Christmas), and this bad Grizz team was supposed to be a stretch where they could get a couple of wins. So far, they are 0-2 and if they cannot win tonight it will be a severe disappointment in a light stretch of what has been a brutal month of December overall. So, while I hate to call games “must win” this is one the Lakers really do need.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.