Lakers Today: 01/08/08

The Lakers start a two game roadie tonight at 5pm against the Memphis Grizzlies.

After practice yesterday Phil mentioned the possibility of starting Trevor Ariza over Luke Walton because of Trevor’s athleticism and familiarness with the Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay.

The Small Forward position is one that is getting overlooked around the league (or at least by Jim O’Brien after Sunday’s game), but the rotation of Walton and Ariza has been a nice complement to the starting unit of Fisher, Bryant, Odom, & Bynum. Each brings something different (Ariza-athleticism, defense; Walton-knowledge, ball movement, sporadic shooting) that allows Jackson to play the match ups and both have shown an ability to perform off the bench when needed.

Luke continues to play through an ankle injury he sustained in mid-December and hasn’t allowed him to work at 100% since.

Some days, Luke Walton said, his right ankle feels 90 to 100 percent healthy. Other days, the ankle feels 60 to 65 percent.

He just carries on, knowing that he is limited.

“It’s fine enough to play,” said Walton, who tweaked the ankle again almost 2½ weeks ago and hasn’t been the same since.

The last time the Lakers visited the home of BBQ and Beale Street, Kobe got nuts to the tune of 60 in a two point victory. While Bryant’s outside shot hasn’t been falling as regularly as expected, it’s been the supporting cast and the up-tempo style that has allowed the Lakers to sustain the offensive end and a commitment to defense that has helped win games.

For Memphis it’s a guy that used to be the man that is now the X-Factor.