The Memphis Grizzlies are starting to head in the right direction following a season-high losing streak despite Zach Randolph’s continued absence, but they’re facing a road-heavy stretch to begin this month.
The Grizzlies try to add to their modest win streak by continuing their recent dominance over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Memphis (23-8) has won two straight since four consecutive defeats. The Grizzlies earned a 95-87 victory Tuesday against San Antonio, which took them to triple overtime Dec. 17.
Mike Conley scored 16 of his 30 points in the opening quarter and added seven rebounds and six assists.
"It’s a huge win for us at home and a huge statement. Hopefully, we can just continue building off of it," Conley said.
Memphis didn’t have Randolph for a fifth consecutive game due to a sore right knee, and his timetable for returning is uncertain. The Grizzlies play six of their next eight away from home, starting with this two-game trek out west that ends Saturday against Denver.
Memphis has split two road games in Randolph’s absence, winning its latest 103-95 over Miami on Saturday. The Grizzlies have taken six of eight away from home, needing a combined four overtimes in two of those victories.
They’ll try to set franchise marks with a fifth consecutive win over the Lakers (10-22) and fourth straight road victory in the series. Memphis has won eight of 10 against Los Angeles with two of the victories coming this season, the latest a 99-93 win at Staples Center on Nov. 26.
Conley has averaged 22.0 points and 56.4 percent shooting in the past three meetings with the Lakers, and Marc Gasol has posted double-doubles in three of the last four. As a result, the Grizzlies haven’t needed much assistance from Randolph in their win streak in the series.
His averages of 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the four games are well below his marks of 17.1 and 10.4 over the past two seasons.
With Randolph potentially out, Memphis will face a team that’s dropped six of eight. The Lakers, though, ended a three-game skid Tuesday with Kobe Bryant recording his second triple-double of 2014-15.
Bryant had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 111-103 victory at Denver, his second game since missing three in a row due to general soreness.
"He’s so talented. … He’s lost a little bit of his athleticism. He’s not the same, in terms of explosiveness or his body recovering or whatever. That’s no secret. But he’s finding ways to be effective and manage regardless of that," point guard Jeremy Lin said. "As your body evolves, you have to evolve as a player."
Bryant shot 5 of 15 in the home game against Memphis in November, scoring 22 points. He had 28 in a 107-102 road loss to the Grizzlies on Nov. 11.
Lakers starting forward and former Grizzlies player Ed Davis is expected to play with a mask after breaking his nose Tuesday. The team might also get backup forward Ryan Kelly back on the floor for the first time since Nov. 16.
Kelly, healing from a torn hamstring, has appeared in three games this season after playing in 59 as a rookie.