Grizzlies-Lakers Preview

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).