The Los Angeles Lakers ended 2014 with a glorious win, led by Kobe Bryant's triple-double, and now have an opportunity to open a fresh year with a repeat performance. It'll be much harder to do against the Memphis Grizzlies, though they might be playing shorthanded Friday night.
Marc Gasol is considered probable and Zach Randolph is questionable with knee soreness and has missed the last five games. The Grizzlies frontcourt being out could be a huge help for the Lakers, though Memphis will throw a platoon of bodies to try and make up for their absences. If both players are out, expect a lot of Kosta Koufos, Tayshaun Prince and Quincy Pondexter.
But enough about the Grizzlies. Let's talk about the Lakers, and admittedly pseudo-point-guard Kobe Bryant. Kobe has opened up about using his time away resting to look over film and adjust his on-court strategy, calling it an "evolution." The Denver Nuggets were happy to throw multiple defenders at Kobe, but eventually the jig will be up and teams will know better than to key on Kobe. As it's always been, it will become a fine balance of picking opportunities and dissecting weak spots in the defense. For the time being, though, it's nice to see Kobe embracing a change. There's a LOT of season still ahead, and if he can consistently move the ball while being selective with his shots, that'd go a long way to sending a message to potential free agents this summer.
We already know Kobe still has the moves, but can he play a different style through an entire season? We've seen glimpses of the Black Mamba doing this, but it normally lasts three games or so. Let's see if Byron Scott can keep the mileage down while Kobe remains committed to feeding his fellow Lakers.
Enjoy the game. Hopefully 2015 is MUCH better for the Lakers than 2014 was.
Time: 7:30 p.m.