Los Angeles Lakers (6-6, 99.8 ppg, 96.5 ppg allowed)
- Dwight Howard (19.2 ppg, 61.5% fg, 2.0 apg, 11.5 rpg)
- Pau Gasol (14.0 ppg, 43% fg, 3.6 apg, 9.5 rpg)
- Metta World Peace (13.4 ppg, 40.8% fg, 1.8 apg, 5.3 rpg)
- Kobe Bryant (27.3 ppg, 53.1% fg, 5.2 apg, 5.3 rpg)
- Darius Morris (6.6 ppg, 40.4% fg, 2.8 apg, 1.6 rpg)
Memphis Grizzlies (8-2, 100.2 ppg, 92.6 ppg allowed)
- Marc Gasol (15.1 ppg, 49.5% fg, 4.6 apg, 7.2 rpg)
- Zach Randolph (16.7 ppg, 47.1% fg, 1.0 apg, 13.8 rpg)
- Rudy Gay (20.0 ppg, 43.3% fg, 2.2 apg, 5.5 rpg)
- Tony Allen (7.5 ppg, 34.6% fg, 0.7 apg, 3.1 rpg)
- Mike Conley (14.4 ppg, 48.1% fg, 6.6 apg, 3.1 rpg)
5:00 PM PST
The Los Angeles take to the road to face the Memphis Grizzlies who have been mauling their competition thus far, getting off to a strong 8-2 start on the season. No O.J. Mayo? No problem. The Grizzlies have done a great job finding a balance in their roster, both in their starters and in their bench rotation. Four of their starters are averaging over 14 points per game, and five other players (four off the bench) are averaging 6+ points per game. What does this mean for the Lakers? There is no let up when the reserves come in from Memphis.
Mike Conley has quietly become a legitimate threat at the point guard position, able to score from anywhere on the floor. His 39.5% from deep will keep Darius Morris honest, but it's not just the three ball from Conley. His mid-range game is strong, and the majority of his scoring is coming at the rim. Having watched point guards burn the Lakers for years, the trend of dangerous point guards continues to strengthen throughout the league. Conley has improved every year with the Grizzlies and shows no signs of slowing down.
Rudy Gay is the anti-thesis of the Lakers roster. He's young, athletic, and a very gifted player. Just entering his prime, Gay will give the Lakers perimeter defense fits. Similar to Conley, Gay will also attack the rim relentlessly, and has the physical gifts to blow by the fine wine aged Lakers. For a player like Metta World Peace, who prides himself on being a difference maker on the defensive side of the court, this will put all of the weight loss and improvements Metta worked towards over the summer to the test.
Still, perhaps the most important pairing to watch is Tony Allen and Kobe Bryant. Allen won't make Kobe work on the defensive side of the ball, but he has historically made Kobe work for every point. While their head to head has Kobe averaging 26.9 ppg, it's also at 42.8% shooting (his career average is 45.4%). Allen holds a defensive rating of 98 (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) while Bryant's offensive rating (the inverse) is an outrageous 122. Their match-up alone may be the determining factor in this game.
Though, even more fascinating is the two front courts battling down low. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph going against Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol should be big man basketball at it's finest. This is arguably the two best front courts in the NBA and there's something special about watching the Gasol brothers play one another. Pau currently holds a 9-4 record over his younger brother, but every year Marc seems to take another step to becoming all the player Pau is and, at 27 years of age, still has plenty of time to become even more.
For a team like the Lakers who have the maddening bad habit of playing down to the competition they should have no problem perking up for a game against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are a top tier team in not only the Western Conference, but the league. Keep an eye on the minute load that Mike D'Antoni leaves the starters out there, as the 38+ they all played against the Brooklyn Nets certainly played part in the abysmal performance in Sacramento.
So, enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers. This should be a great game with plenty of intriguing match-ups. For the Memphis Grizzlies perspective, head over to Straight Outta Vancouver.
Dream Theater - Octavarium
I never wanted to become someone like him so secure
Content to live each day just like the last
I was sure I knew that
This was not for me
And I wanted so much more
Far beyond what I could see
So I swore that I'd
Never be someone like him
So many years have passed
Since I proclaimed
And my vision
Content to live each day like it's my last
It's wonderful to know
That I could be
Something more than I dreamed
Far beyond what I could see
Still I swear that I'm
Missing out this time
As far as I could tell
There's nothing more I need
But still I ask myself
Could this be everything
Then all I swore
That I would never be was now
The only thing
To be someone just like him
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