L.A. will again start Darius Morris at point guard, as Steve Nash is out for at least two more games with his non-displaced fracture in his left leg, and Steve Blake is not yet ready to return from an abdominal strain.
Get to know the Grizzlies a bit with our five notes on the opponent:
1) The Grizzlies won eight straight games after dropping their season opener at the Clippers, enough to hold the NBA’s best record for the first time in team history. That streak tied the best in franchise history, which occurred back when Pau Gasol was the team’s best player in January of 2004. Gasol is the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in 12 statistical categories, including points (8,966), rebounds (4,096) and blocks (877), and was the first-ever All-Star (2006).
2) Their 15-game home winning streak that was snapped on November 19 by Denver had dated back to March 16, 2012, when Memphis fell to Toronto. The Lakers won their last matchup in Tennessee in thrilling fashion, holding on for a double OT conquest on March 13, 2012. The Grizz went up by as many as 17 points in the 3rd Q despite missing Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph due to injury, but L.A. rallied to take a 2-point lead in the final minute. Kobe Bryant, Gasol and Andrew Bynum all had huge games.
3) The Grizz are hitting the three this season, ranking 8th in the NBA at 36.2% after regularly finishing in the bottom 1/3 of the league in the previous five seasons. Mike Conley’s at 39.5% (37.7% last season led the Grizz) and Rudy Gay 33.3%, but a key has been the bench. Jerryd Bayless (in Toronto last year) is shooting 44%, Wayne Ellington 38.7% and Quincey Pondexter 36.7%. LAL aren’t too far behind as a team, however, hitting 35.2%, which ranks 13th. Kobe leads the way at 41.8%. Darius Morris is at 42.9% and Chris Duhon 44.4%, with Metta World Peace at 36%.
4) Memphis is 6-0 when scoring 100 points this season. They play well at a faster pace, last season leading the league in steals and turnovers forced. The backcourt duo of Conley (2.0 ranks 7th) and Tony Allen sparks that action.
5) Zach Randolph is leading the NBA in rebounding at 13.8 per game and is second in offensive boarding (5.2) to Denver’s Kenneth Faried (5.5). He’s double-doubled every night this season, and became just the third player in league history to go for at least 15 points and 10 boards in his first nine games of the season, joining Karl Malone (1988-89), David Robinson (1994-95) and Kevin Garnett (2004-05). Meanwhile, his frontcourt partner Marc Gasol ranks 3rd in the entire NBA in assist to turnover ratio (4.60). He has 46 assists and only 10 turnovers.