Grizzlies tip-off West Coast road trip against Lakers
The Memphis Grizzlies have hardly played like the dominant defensive team that recorded the best season in franchise history in 2012-13.
Facing the struggling Los Angeles Lakers - among the league's least efficient offensive clubs - could prove to be at least a temporary cure for their woes.
Memphis seeks its first road victory of the season Friday night against the Lakers.
The Grizzlies (3-5) limited opponents to a league-low 89.3 points and 43.5 percent field-goal shooting - third overall - en route to a franchise-record 56 wins last season, but they haven't been nearly as good at their end of the floor in 2013-14. Opponents are averaging 99.4 points and 46.6 percent from the floor, one of the biggest reasons for a 1-3 slump in which the losses have come by an average of 15.7 points.
Memphis fell 103-87 to Toronto at home Wednesday. The Raptors had scored 97 or fewer points in regulation in seven of their first eight games.
Memphis allowed an opponent to score 103 or more at home once last season. The Grizzlies are also 0-3 away from home after their 24 road wins last season tied for third most in the league.
"We hang our hat on defense. That's what we do," forward Zach Randolph said. "I don't know what it is. We just have to stick together."
The Lakers (4-6) have also dropped three of four, all by double-digit margins, though they're 3-2 at home.
They suffered a 111-99 loss at Denver on Wednesday, allowing reserve Timofey Mozgov to score 23 points after he came in averaging 8.2. Kenneth Faried added 21 points and 13 rebounds as Los Angeles was exploited inside, getting outscored 60-32 in the paint.
"They're good players," said big man Jordan Hill, who finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. "It was their night. Defensively, we didn't help each other the way we're supposed to and it cost us."
Hill has been a bright spot, totaling 39 points and 26 rebounds while starting the last two games. The Lakers, though, were 37 of 94 from the field (39.4 percent) and are shooting 41.8 percent on the season.
Jodie Meeks is the only player among the team's top four scorers shooting better than 43.2 percent. Pau Gasol's team-best 13.4 points per game is nearly five below his career average, and he's shooting a career-worst 39.4 percent.
Gasol has also struggled in recent matchups with brother Marc and the Grizzlies, averaging 13.6 points and 41.0 percent shooting in his last five meetings.
Steve Nash's absence isn't helping matters, as Los Angeles is allowing 20.2 points off turnovers per game. He's expected to be out two weeks with nerve root irritation in his back.
Memphis took two of three meetings with the Lakers last season with Mike Conley averaging 19.7 points, 2.7 steals and 55.3 percent from the field. He's enjoying a strong start with career highs in scoring (20.1 ppg) and field-goal percentage (52.6).
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