The 26-14 Memphis Grizzlies traded forward Marresse Speights, guards Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby along with a future first round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for forward Jon Leuer Tuesday. Although the move was down strictly for financial reasons to avoid paying the harsh luxury tax penalties that go into effect next season.
While the Grizzlies could only dress 9 players today with forward Quincy Pondexter still out indefinitely with a knee sprain, their opponent tonight has even bigger problems. The Grizzlies host the 17-24 Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night (7:00 pm Central, SportsSouth, TWC Sports, NBA LP). The Lakers have lost 9 of their last 11 games and three in a row. Despite having a line-up filled with All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers the Lakers will be lucky to even make the playoffs.
The Grizzlies are 5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies are currently a game ahead of the Golden State Warriors for the #4 seed in the Western Conference. Memphis lost 82-81 at home Monday to the Indiana Pacers in a Martin Luther King Day afternoon game. The loss snapped a two game winning streak for Memphis.It was also the sixth game in a row the Grizzlies were held to 85 points or fewer.
The Lakers are currently 3rd in the Pacific 14 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers. Really the division is an unobtainable goal at this point for the Lakers. The Lakers are 4 gamers behind the Houston Rockets for the last spot in the West. However LA is also behind the Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks.The Lakers lost at the Chicago Bulls Monday 95-83, despite being tied at 69 going into the fourth quarter. It was the sixth straight road loss for Los Angeles. The Lakers haven’t lost 7 straight road games since the 2004-05 season, the only time in the last 20 years the franchise failed to make the playoffs.
Memphis won the first meeting against the Lakers at the Fed Ex Forum 106-98 on the day after Thanksgiving. The two teams will play again in Los Angeles April 5 in the last scheduled meeting of the season.
The Lakers are outscoring teams 103-101 this season. Los Angeles is #5 in scoring and #26 in points allowed. LA is shooting 45.4% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. The Lakers are 15th or better in both categories. LA is second to last in free throw shooting at 69.4% from the line. The Lakers are #3 in rebounding averaging 45.2 per game. The Lakers give up 42.4 rebounds per game. LA opponents are shooting 45.1% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. The Lakers are 16th or better in both categories. LA averages 21.9 assists, 7.4 steals, 5.6 blocks, and 15.4 turnovers per game.
The Lakers are coached by Mike D’Antoni. Kobe Bryant is averaging 29.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Kobe is tied for second in scoring in the league with Carmelo Anthony. Both are behind Kevin Durant at 29.5 points per game. Center Dwight Howard averages 17.1 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 2.5 blocks per game. Howard leads the league in rebounding and is fifth in blocks. Small forward Metta World Peace averages 13.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Power forward Pau Gasol averages 12.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. He has been moved to the bench, and is the subject of trade rumors as is Howard. The likelihood of either being traded seems to be a longshot at best. Point guard Steve Nash averages 11.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists. Like the Grizzlies the Lakers don’t get a lot of scoring off their bench. Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks, and Chris Duhon make up the rest of the rotation. Clark moved into the starting line-up in place of Gasol. Steve Blake is out indefinitely with a torn abdominal muscle, and center Jordan Hill is out for the season with a hip injury.
The Grizzlies are coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis is outscoring teams 93-89 this season. They are second in the league in points allowed and are #28 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 43.3% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #25 in field goal percentage and #23 in three point shooting. Memphis is #5 in the league in free throw shooting at 79.2% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.7 rebounds per game and give up 39.2. Memphis is #1 in rebounds allowed and #12 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. Memphis is #7 in opponents’ field goal percentage and #13 in 3 point defense. The Grizzlies average 20.4 assists, 9.2 steals, 5.3 blocks and 14.9 turnovers a game.
Small forward Rudy Gay averages 17.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals a game. Forward Zach Randolph averages 16.2 points, 11.6 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.3 assists per game. Randolph is second in the league in rebounding, and will likely be chosen as a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team. Both Gay and Randolph have been the subject of trade rumors despite the great start of the Grizzlies. That probably won’t happen with the cost saving move the Grizzlies made yesterday. Center Marc Gasol averages 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, a steal, and 1.8 blocks per game. Point Guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 13.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.4 steals a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. Tony Allen starts at shooting guard and is one of the best defenders in the league. Allen averages 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Point guard Jerryd Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, and forward Darrell Arthur make up the rest of the rotation. It isn’t known when Leuer will join the team, so guard Tony Wroten and center Hamed Haddadi could see more minutes than they usually do. Pondexter is out indefinitely with a grade 2 MCL sprain.
Neither of these teams are very deep, and the Grizzlies could be especially shorthanded tonight after trading 3 players. However, the Lakers would kill to have those kind of problems. The Lakers are a dysfunctional mess right now and show no signs of turning it around anytime soon. I like the Grizzlies to hand the Lakers their 7th straight road loss.