Here is what you need to know before the Lakers end their eight-game homestand by hosting the Memphis Grizzlies.
Since returning from a five-game injury stead, Lou Williams has been at the center of the Lakers’ offense by leading the team in scoring in each of their last three contests, while averaging 20.7 points. This culminated against Phoenix on Friday when the reigning Sixth Man of the Year dropped 30 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter.
While the bench has received a boost from Williams, Los Angeles’ starters have sputtered. The opening unit combined for 31 points against Phoenix on 9-of-40 shooting, prompting head coach Byron Scott to highlight what he sees as a lack of trust.
The Grizzlies have dominated their series against the Lakers lately, winning 13 of the last 15 meetings. In fact, Memphis has taken nine straight against the purple and gold, including when it scored a season-high 128 points on Feb. 24.
However, Memphis is now the most injury-plagued team in the league. Six Grizzlies are currently out, while 27 different players have suited up for the the team this year. Memphis — which has missed 244 games due to injury and has used 23 starting lineups — is nonetheless on pace to become the first team in NBA history to make the playoffs in a season using 24 players or more.
However, since First Team All-NBA center Marc Gasol was lost for the season (foot fracture), the Grizzlies have managed to go 11-8. They’ve been able to reach this mark by cleaning the glass, as they average a league-high 13.3 offensive rebounds during this span.
One player that the Grizzlies do still have is the franchise’s all-time leading rebounder, Zach Randolph. The 15-year veteran is nearing another milestone, as he needs just five more boards to pass Artis Gilmore (9,161) for the 47th-most in league history.
With the influx of injuries, Memphis has received much-needed offensive from one of its midseason acquisitions: Lance Stephenson. The former Clipper, who averaged 4.7 points in Los Angeles this year, has hit double digits in six straight games, pouring in 20.3 per contest on a 51.1 percent clip.
L.A. will welcome a familiar, yet unexpected, face. Jordan Farmar — who played five seasons with the Lakers, including on the 2009 and 2010 title teams — made his season debut for the Grizzlies on Monday. Farmar played eight games in Israel this season prior to returning to the NBA.
The Grizzlies boast the league’s best turnover differential, forcing 2.8 more per game than they commit. However, that number could be difficult to maintain with the loss of Mike Conley (Achilles tendonitis), who leads the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.07).
Off the court, the NBA and AEG will make a “major announcement” at Staples Center at 4:45 p.m. Among those present for this unveiling will be NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.