The Lakers are coming off a game against the Hawks in Atlanta last night that looked like it was the second game of a back-to-back. It was actually only the first game and they have another game in Memphis tonight. It will be much more difficult for them to find some energy tonight, which makes the performance yesterday even more worrisome. If the Lakers want to begin clawing their way back to .500, they must play with some energy and cannot come out as flat as they did yesterday.
Last time the Lakers played the Grizzlies, they lost 89-86 after leading by 3 going into the 4th. Just as they did last night, the Lakers fell flat to end the game, and let Zach Randolph destroy them in the 4th to end with 28 points. If there is a silver lining though, it is that the Grizzlies are playing well below their potential this season. They are struggling to score, which is something the Lakers happen to do fairly well. The Grizzlies are 28th in the NBA in scoring at 93.7 PPG while the Lakers are 14th at 100.5 PPG.
The Lakers have a good chance to kick the Grizzlies while they’re down and get a good win on the road tonight.
KEYS OF THE GAME
Control the paint: The Lakers have to keep Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol under control. Jordan Hill played very well in the paint last night and gave the Lakers multiple opportunities to get second chance buckets and fast break points. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it done. However, Hill and Gasol must play well again and shut down the head of the Grizzlies offense.
Contain Mike Conley: Jeff Teague finished the game yesterday with 17 points and 10 assists, but he really didn’t even play that well. Mike Conley is one of the fastest point guards in the NBA, so the Lakers need to have a solid plan to contain him and keep him from getting penetration into the lane. It will be interesting to see who will defend him for most of the game, because it probably shouldn’t be Kobe.
Keep the turnovers down: Kobe had 4 turnovers in the first quarter, and only had 1 for the rest of the game. The Grizzlies are not as dominant at forcing turnovers as they have been in the past, but Conley, Tayshaun Prince, and Tony Allen are still great defenders and will take advantage of bad passing or dribbling.
Energy, energy, energy: The Lakers need to conjure up some energy tonight after a very flat second half yesterday. The second game of a road back-to-back will make that difficult, but hopefully the younger players will not have a problem getting out there and pushing the pace.
X-FACTOR OF THE NIGHT
Jordan Hill was definitely the X-Factor of the night yesterday, and could very well be the X-Factor again tonight. However, I think defending Mike Conley is going to be important tonight, so the X-Factor tonight is Kobe Bryant. The Lakers will probably lean on him to defend Conley in the 1st and 3rd quarters, so he will be responsible for setting the defensive pace. The Lakers also need him to start scoring more, especially if they continue to struggle shooting the ball.
NUMBER OF THE NIGHT
35. The number of points Atlanta dropped on the Lakers in the 3rd quarter last night. The Lakers have to keep up the pace and play hard for a full 48 minutes tonight if they want to avoid that onslaught tonight. The Lakers will need the younger legs to keep that pace throughout the game.
The Lakers should be able to notch a win in Memphis tonight, but after that poor showing last night, I am less confident. However, Memphis is playing so poorly right now that the Lakers should be able to take advantage. The Lakers will win a slow and sloppy grinder tonight, 94-88. Lets go Lake Show!