(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
3 Things to Know: Lakers at Grizzlies (12/8/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers complete their back-to-back with a visit to the Memphis Grizzlies.
1) Kuz Control is in effect
Kyle Kuzma has been a walking bucket for the Lakers this week, scoring 20-plus points in three straight games.
While his 3-point shot has still yet to come around, he has been a machine inside of the arc, shooting 61.3 percent on two-pointers during this stretch. He has been at his best getting to the basket, shooting 9-of-12 on layups thanks to his transition and post play.
A player with great touch, Kuzma’s floater has been reliable all year long. But that shot was on even further display in Friday’s loss to San Antonio, as seven of his 12 baskets fell in the floating category.
And Kuzma has been flashing his all-around game recently, from scoring and passing to rebounding and defending. Over that aforementioned three-game sample size, he has averaged 24.0 points, 8.3 boards and 3.3 dimes.
Kyle Kuzma has hit 10 shots so far. 6 have been floaters.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) December 8, 2018
Doing a lot of damage off his own dribble. pic.twitter.com/z4yo3ITzzs
2) Zo’s got $2 worth of dimes
With Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram out due to injuries, Lonzo Ball has seized the team’s playmaking responsibility.
The sophomore point guard has 20 assists in his last two games, against only three turnovers. And while Lonzo may be one of the league’s best at dealing on fast-breaks, he has done a nice job of mixing up his production, with 14 dimes in the half-court and six in transition.
Ball has also played a key role in feeding the Lakers’ hottest scorers, with eight assists to Kuzma and five to LeBron James during this stretch.
Lonzo’s own shot has been off over the last two games (10-of-28), but he has left his mark on the game by passing, screening and defending.
3) Grit and Grind is back
It’s a battle between contrasting styles, as the tempo-pushing Lakers sport the league’s fourth-fastest pace, while the Grizzlies churn it down to the slowest of anybody.
Whoever controls the speed of the game will likely be the winner in a matchup between teams with near-identical records, as Memphis (15-9) and L.A. (15-10) currently sit at fifth and sixth in the early Western Conference playoff picture.
It’s been an impressive turnaround for a Grizz squad that won only 22 games all of last season (and just three of their final 33). Memphis has risen toward the top with one of the league’s best defenses, holding opponents to the NBA’s second-fewest points this year (102.4).
And while the offense ranks just 27th in scoring (104.2), they have franchise stalwarts Marc Gasol and Mike Conley leading the way, plus a solid bunch of role players, including rookie Jaren Jackson Jr., JaMychal Green and Kyle Anderson.
Plus, the game has additional wrench to it, as both teams flew into Tennessee on a back-to-back, with the Lakers playing the previous night in San Antonio and the Grizzlies returning from New Orleans.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (sprained left ankle), Rajon Rondo (right hand surgery) and Michael Beasley (personal reasons) are out. Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams are on G League assignment.
Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks (left knee sprain) and Chandler Parsons (right knee soreness) are out.
Tip-Off: 5 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Purple Statement
Location: FedExForum — Memphis, Tennessee