The game has plenty of storylines on both sides of the court and is sure to be an exciting matchup, despite the fact that a superstar from each team will be missing for the contest.
Coincidentally, those two absences for LeBron James and Ja Morant loom pretty large over the actual game. LeBron is out with an ankle injury — which recently was the center of a negative update courtesy of Shams Charania — while Morant is out with, well... if you’re reading this you probably know why Morant is out.
Those aren’t the only noteworthy storylines surrounding each team. For the Grizzlies, Morant’s indefinite suspension was only the start of stories starting to unravel out of Memphis, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania said that a recent players-only meeting held by the team featured Steven Adams wanting “better discipline” out of his teammates. In Lakerland, we fans are still enjoying the team’s sustained winning even with LeBron out, especially as the last two wins have featured monster Anthony Davis performances.
In addition to all of that hoopla, there’s also the fact that both of these teams still have things to fight for with both now under the 20-mark in terms of games remaining. The Grizzlies still have the right to face the first winner of the play-in tournament as the current 2-seed in the Western Conference, but they have the Sacramento Kings right on their tail. The Lakers still find themselves on the outside of the play-in as the 11th-seed, however, they themselves are biting at the heels of the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans.
But forget all of that. None of the above is the main storyline of the night. That honor sees a hero of both franchises at its center, as Pau Gasol gets set to see his jersey enshrined in the rafters of Crypto.com Arena alongside the other Lakers legends.
Pau’s never-ending legacy
I’m not going to try to summarize the 18-year career of one of the best international players this league has ever seen. Instead, I’m going to talk about what a Lakers jersey retirement means to me.
Basically, it allows me and the other Lakers fans around the world a moment to slow down and remember great moments in the past.
I know that’s such a simple and obvious way to put it, but in this world we live in today, I appreciate those moments way more than I ever used to.
All day on Tuesday I’ll be having awesome Pau Gasol highlights flash behind my eyes. Whether it’s his game-winner in the 2010 playoffs against the Thunder, posterizing Kevin Garnett in the NBA Finals, leading the fastbreak while ending it with an in-between-the-legs dribble and a no-look pass, or even rubbing Chris Paul’s head to the annoyance of the future-hall-of-famer point guard.
With most jersey retirements, the good memories are all that are at the front of everyone’s minds. Of course, this night will inevitably bring some tears as Gasol’s jersey will go alongside two different jerseys worn by the Alpha to his Omega, Kobe Bryant.
But even with that sad memory, it brings me joy knowing we’ll all take a moment to stop what we’re doing and think about how good we all had it. With Pau, especially, but with Kobe, with Lamar, with Phil, with Derek, and all of those guys from the end of the 2000s era.
And then after that, a Lakers win against the Grizzlies will do just fine.
Notes and Updates
- The most notable item from each team’s injury reports is that D’Angelo Russell (right ankle sprain) received an upgrade from a “doubtful” designation to a “questionable” one for this game. He has missed his last five games after leaving early with the injury against the Warriors on Feb. 23.
- Mo Bamba (left ankle sprain) will be out with a sprain he suffered on Sunday vs. the Warriors. LeBron James (right foot soreness) will be out as well, while Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) is probable.
- Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider (G-League play) will be out.
- The Grizzlies will be without Morant, but they’ll also be without Steven Adams (right knee PCL sprain). Vince Williams Jr. (right shoulder soreness) will be out while Jake LaRavia (back soreness) is questionable.
- They’ll also be without Brandon Clarke (achilles tear). It was announced on Sunday that the Grizzlies would be without Clarke for the rest of the season due to the tear he suffered in last Friday’s game vs. the Nuggets.
The Lakers and Grizzlies will tip-off at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be nationally televised on TNT and locally televised on Spectrum SportsNet.
You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.