Lakers-Grizzlies Preview

Kobe Bryant hasn’t quite found a rhythm yet since returning, and

the Los Angeles Lakers are still struggling as a result. Perhaps

facing the also-toiling Memphis Grizzlies – who could be without

Mike Conley – can help them find their way.

Los Angeles seeks just its second win in the series’ last six

meetings when it travels to Memphis on Tuesday night.

Bryant looked as if he might have made major progress in

Saturday’s win at Charlotte, scoring 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting

with eight assists and seven rebounds. But he was just 4 of 14 for

eight points in Monday’s 114-100 loss at Atlanta, which saw the

Lakers squander a seven-point halftime advantage.

DeMarre Carroll was largely responsible for slowing Bryant,

often picking him up defensively in the backcourt as Bryant played

point guard for Los Angeles for the third straight game.

The Lakers (11-13) are just 1-4 with Bryant, who said his ankle

felt stiff at times on Monday, though he wasn’t necessarily

deterred. His 1.13 assist-to-turnover ratio is his worst since his

rookie season.

“The next level of progression is playing these games when you

sit back out, get back in, is keeping it loose,” said Bryant, who

is averaging 12.4 points while shooting a career-low 40.0 percent.

“It’s just a matter of time. You increase the activity, the ankle

gets used to it a little more.”

He averaged 27.7 points in three meetings with Memphis last

season.

“I’ve just got to keep my eye on the big picture and focus on

getting better,” he said.

The Lakers will try to avenge an 89-86 home loss from Nov. 15.

Memphis was just 1 of 13 from 3-point range, though it compensated

with a 51-40 rebounding advantage. But the Grizzlies were still

with the now-injured Marc Gasol, who had 18 points, eight rebounds,

eight assists, three steals and three blocks. They are 3-7 since he

was sidelined by a sprained MCL.

He also helped limit his brother Pau to 10 points on 4-of-12

shooting. Gasol is shooting just 39.0 percent over his last five

games versus Memphis.

However, Zach Randolph hit 11 of 18 shots for a season-high 28

points. Another big performance could be crucial with Mike Conley’s

status unclear after he left late in Sunday’s 101-93 loss to

Minnesota with a bruised left thigh.

Conley, who scored 28 points before exiting, is enjoying a

career year despite his team’s struggles with 18.2 points per game

and a 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Grizzlies (10-13) have dropped four of five at home and

three in a row overall. They haven’t lost four straight since Jan.

24-30, 2012.

Sunday’s defeat marked already their ninth loss in Memphis,

matching the team’s total from 2012-13 when it won a

franchise-record 32 games at home.

The Grizzlies are allowing opponents to shoot 37.6 percent from

3-point range this season, including 43.7 percent over the last six

games after Minnesota was 12 of 26. They limited teams to a 33.8

percentage last season, which was the second-lowest in the

league.

Los Angeles has been one of the better 3-point shooting teams,

hitting 38.6 percent, but just 28.2 percent over its last four

contests.