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10 Things to Know: Lakers at Grizzlies (12/27/15)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers open their three-game road trip in Memphis.
1) The Lakers lost on Christmas Day, but they are looking to bottle up some of the momentum that carried them through the fourth quarter — their best frame of the season. They held the Clippers to just nine points — the fewest by any opponent since March 2013 — while outscoring them by 18.
2) Kobe Bryant is the leading vote recipient for the 2016 All-Star Game, and it’s not close at all. The five-time champion has 719,235 votes — 209,033 more than second-place Stephen Curry and more than twice as many as third-place LeBron James (357,937). After Friday’s game, Bryant described his reaction by saying, “Shocked doesn’t do it justice.”
3) Memphis has been uncrackable for the Lakers lately, as they have lost six straight to the Grizzlies. However, the purple and gold have been within striking range, as all four of last year’s defeats came by seven points or fewer.
4) Coming off last year’s First Team All-NBA selection, Marc Gasol has been searching to restore his shot, as he is hitting a career-low 46.7 percent from the field. However, the big man nonetheless tops his team in scoring (16.2 ppg), while leading all centers in assists (3.8).
5) Gasol’s longtime frontcourt mate, Zach Randolph, was recently moved to the bench for the first time in three years. Randolph has been averaging 11.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in eight games as a reserve, as opposed to 14.1 and 8.9 in the starting lineup, respectively. But he is also shooting 5.7 percent better against second units (50.6).
6) Many players have tried to stop Bryant in his 20-year career, but the future Hall of Famer himself says that nobody has been more successful than Memphis’ Tony Allen. A member of the All-Defensive First Team last year, Allen went head-to-head with Bryant as a member of the Boston Celtics in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.
7) Partially due to their methodical pace, the Grizzlies score the league’s second-fewest points (95.9). However, another reason for this deficiency has been their inability to shoot the long ball, as they place last in 3-point percentage (31.5) and hit the third-fewest triples (5.5).
8) One area that Memphis dominates more than any other team is the turnover battle. The Grizzlies force the NBA’s second-most giveaways (16.9), while coughing the ball up just 13.8 times. That -3.1 differential is by far the best in the league.
9) Memphis has clearly been the most Jekyll-and-Hyde team in the NBA this year. When the Grizzlies win, they do it in style by averaging 104.1 points and outscoring opponents by 9.3. But their play is hideous in losing efforts, as they put up just 87.6 points and get pounded by an average margin of 17.1.
10) Matt Barnes has been one indicator as to which Grizzlies team will show up. Memphis is undefeated in 14 games when the former Laker posts a positive plus/minus.
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