The (5-25) Los Angeles Lakers embark on a three-game road trip and have taken the three hour, thirty five minute flight 1,603 miles east (79 degrees from north) to Memphis, TN to fight off the (16-16) Grizzlies at Fed Ex Forum. On Christmas, the Lakers dropped their eighth straight game to the L.A. Clippers (the Lakers have lost 12 of their last 13 to the Clippers) losing 94-84, however the game provided some positives. The numbers you need to know; 30, 10 , 4 and 1. Four Lakers scored in double digits (D’Angelo Russell 16, Kobe Bryant 12, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, both scored 11 points), the purple and gold held the Clippers to 10 fast break points and 30 points in the paint and for the first time in 19 games the Lakers held an opponent under 100 points.
After being down by 28-points to start the final twelve minutes the Lakers mounted a comeback put on a furious rally fueled by the purple and gold reserves, that included a 25-7 scoring run (the Lakers outscored the Clippers 27-9 in the final frame) that fell short when the Clippers held on for the win despite managing to score only nine points in the quarter. The Lakers got as close as 89-82 before a Wesley Johnson three-point shot and a Chris Paul 16-footer finished them off. In his 16th and final Christmas Day game, Kobe Bryant scored 12 points in 26 minutes and sat out the entire fourth quarter and watched the reserves mount a comeback. Bryant ranks first all-time in games played on December 25th (16), Points scored (395) and made three-point shots (15).
While in Memphis; the largest city in the state of Tennessee, the largest city on the Mississippi river and the third largest in the greater southeastern United States, the Lakers could experience the sights and sounds on Beale Street, visit the National Civil Rights Museum – Lorraine Motel, Graceland, Stax Museum of American Soul Music. If time permits take a trip to the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, the historic Sun Studio which shared the same building with Sun Records, home of the first rock and roll single Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88”, recorded in 1951 with song composer Ike Turner on keyboards which led the studio to claim status as the birthplace of rock & roll. In the early 1950’s Blues and R&B artists such as Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Parker, Little Milton, B.B. Kings, James Cotton, Rufus Thomas and Rosco Gordon recorded songs for Sun Records.
While in blues city the Lakers could have breakfast at The Pancake shop, experience Memphis dry and wet rub barbeque at Corky’s, Rendezvous or the Bar-B-Que shop in Midtown. The Memphis Grizzlies rank 29th in the NBA in scoring (95.9 points per game), 27th in rebounding (40.9 rebounds), 21st in assists (20.7 assists) and 12th defensively (allowing 99.8 points per game). The Lakers lead the all-time series with the Grizzlies 48-26. Today’s game is the 75th meeting between the two franchises and the 52nd since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis coincidentally, the purple and gold clad team are 26-25 versus the Grizzlies since the move to blues city and have lost just five season series to Memphis.
The purple and gold lost both games to the Grizzlies in the 2014-15 campaign. The Lakers are 2-8 in their last 10 meeting with the Grizzlies, 4-6 in their last ten games at Fed Ex Forum. The Grizzlies are the third place team in the Southwest Division, 10 games behind the San Antonio Spurs, currently on a two-game losing streak and are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Center Marc Gasol leads the team in scoring 16.2 points per game while shooting 46.7-percent from the field. The Lakers need to start the game with the energy, effort, aggressiveness, tenacity and competitiveness shown in the 25-7 run to place the outcome of the Christmas Day in doubt.
The purple and gold need an efficient performance on offense moving, passing and cutting. The ball needs to move freely from the strong to the weak side to make the Memphis defense work in addition to finding the open man as well as the high percentage shots. L.A. needs to communicate on defense; get back in transition, stop the dribble penetration of the guards (underated Grizzles guard Mike Conley averages 15 points and six assists per game), do a solid job on the pick-and-roll play, surround Marc Gasol and make him play in a crowd, challenge every shot, quickly rotate out to open shooters, box their men out and rebound.
Lakers: L. Williams, J. Clarkson, K. Bryant, L. Nance, R. Hibbert
Grizzlies: M. Conley, C. Lee, M. Barnes, J. Green, M. Gasol
Tip-off: 3:00 PM PST
• Los Angeles: TWC Sportsnet (Bill MacDonald & Stu Lantz)
• Memphis: Fox Sports Southeast (Pete Pranica & Sean Tuohy)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
• Memphis: ESPN 92.9 FM – WMFS (Eric Hasseltine & Elliot Perry)
• Lou Williams (Soar Left Shoulder) Probable
• Ryan Kelly (Soar Neck) Probable
• Tony Allen (Knee) Out