The Lakers face what should be a “body bag game” tonight at Staples, but injuries to LA’s big men have the potential to make this matchup with 1-4 Memphis interesting. Just watched Pau Gasol on the floor working out, and he looks good (frankly, good enough to play), but he will not suit up with a better-but-still-not 100% hamstring. The Lakers are also without Andrew Bynum, who suffered a strained elbow at Houston.
That will mean the DJ Mbenga may get the start, and Josh Powell will get his most meaningful minutes of the season. They, and Lamar Odom, will be facing a downright scary Memphis frontcourt led by Pau’s “little” brother Marc Gasol (averaging 18pts and 12rpg) and former Clipper Zack Randolph (with 20pts and 10reb per game). At some point, LA can also expect to see 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet from UConn, although he’s getting just 7min per game.The scoring punch for Memphis comes not just from Randolph and Gasol, OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay are both scoring at a 20pt clip, and Allen Iverson will come off the bench shooting (to be sure), angry that he is the 6th man for an NBA doormat. The starting point guard for the Grizzlies is 22yo Mike Conley, who played his college ball at Ohio St.. Conley is a classic point with at least 6 assists in every Memphis game except their dismal opener against Detroit.
The Grizzlies got hammered in their home opener by the Pistons, then got 30 points from Randolph and 10 helpers from Conley in their lone win of the year last Friday in Memphis against Toronto. But, they’ve lost the first 3 games of their current 5 game trip, so the Grizzlies could be a bit road-weary. They’ll play the Lakers tonight at Staples and finish the Los Angeles twin bill with a game against the lowly Clippers tomorrow night.