December 27, 2017, 3:30 pm
The Lakers (11-21) host the Memphis Grizzlies (10-24) on Wednesday as they try to overcome their recent string of poor play. Los Angeles has lost three games in a row and six of their last seven.
They expect to get back second leading scorer Brandon Ingram who missed the last two games with a contusion to his right quadriceps and tendinitis of right quadriceps. Ingram has shown tremendous growth in his second NBA season while averaging 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks on 44.7 percent shooting from the field.
The Lakers badly need him back as they will be missing starting point guard Lonzo Ball due to a shoulder injury he sustained in a loss against Portland on Saturday. Ball is expected to be re-evaluated in a week.
The Lakers are led by rookie phenom Kyle Kuzma who is leading them in scoring with 18.1 points per game. Kuzma continues to play at a level well above his draft position (No. 27 overall) accruing two Rookie of the Month awards in his first two NBA months — at this rate he is a shoo in for his third consecutive accolade. He has elevated his game to a new echelon in his last five contests with averages of 27.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks. During that stretch he is shooting a scalding 56.4 percent from 3-point range on 22-of-39 while shooting 52.9 percent from the field overall.
Los Angeles will focus their defensive effort on Grizzlies starting center Marc Gasol, who the Lakers initially drafted, before trading him to the Grizzlies as part of their trade to acquire his brother Pau Gasol. He will be an imposing matchup for the Lakers who will be without starting center Brook Lopez. Gasol is a unique big man in that he can stretch the defense with his 3-point range, initiate the offense from the post where he excels as a passer and has an array of post moves to score for himself. He also anchors their team on defense where he is one of the best defensive centers in the league.
The other primary challenge for the Lakers will be Tyreke Evans who has taken over as the Grizzlies primary ball handler in the absence of Mike Conley. Evans is averaging 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steals for the season but has been even more impressive of late with averages of 22.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals over the last week. He is having a resurgent year for the Grizzlies who must be thrilled with their acquisition who they signed for a one-year, $3.3 million deal.
Memphis is playing the second half of a back-to-back set after losing 99-97 last night to the Suns on a last second alley-oop to Tyson Chandler. The Lakers will look to take advantage of the Grizzlies’ fatigue and try to secure a much-needed victory.
- Memphis is one of the lowest scoring teams in the league at 97.1 (29th) points per game vs. 106.5 (11th) for the Lakers. Their low scoring is by design however as they play a slow grind-it-out type of game and are last in the league in overall pace at 95.4 compared to Los Angeles who leads the NBA in pace at 104.34 — this game will be a battle of philosophies as each team tries to impose its will and style on the game.
- The Lakers accrue 46.5 (3rd) rebounds per game compared to the Grizzlies who only average 39.6 (28th) per contest.
- Los Angeles must again focus on limiting their turnovers as they commit 16.6 (29th) turnovers a game vs. 14.3 (12th) for Memphis.
- The Lakers continue to be the worst free throw shooting team in the league by a significant margin as they are shooting an abysmal 69.2 percent on the season in contrast to the Grizzlies who shoot 79.5 percent good for seventh.
- Memphis averages only 20.5 (27th) assists compared to 23.2 (8th) assists for the Lakers. To reiterate, a big factor in the statistical variance between the two teams is due to the drastic difference in the number of possessions that each team has per game.
Jordan Clarkson (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Brandon Ingram (SF)
Kyle Kuzma (PF)
Andrew Bogut (C)
Andrew Harrison (PG)
Tyreke Evans (SG)
Dillon Brooks (SF)
Jarell Martin (PF)
Marc Gasol (C)
Brook Lopez (ankle) – OUT
Lonzo Ball (shoulder) – OUT
Brandon Ingram (quadriceps) – PROBABLE
Mike Conley (left heel) – OUT
JaMychal Green (knee) – OUT
Wayne Selden Jr. (right quad) – OUT
Tyreke Evans (right knee) – QUESTIONABLE
Brandan Wright (left quad) – DOUBTFUL
Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST
Television: SPECSN/SPECD, FOX SPORTS SOUTHEAST – MEMPHIS,
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, WMFS