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Monday, December 22, 2008

Lakers-Memphis Preview - 22-Dec-08

Lakers (21-5) at Grizzlies (9-17) , 22-Dec-08, FedExForum, Memphis, TN

This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Lakers record against Grizzlies last season was 2-1. Their first meeting was on January 8, 2008 at Memphis. The Lakers won 117-101 in a very balanced offense with all their starters scoring in double-figures. Derek Fisher top-scored for the Lakers with 26 points on 10-11 field goal shooting hitting a perfect 5-5 on his 3 point shots. Kobe Bryant played 40 minutes scoring 25 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. Lamar Odom had 10 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. Andrew Bynum had 10 points and 9 boards and Luke Walton also had 10 points. Jordan Farmar added 13 points off the bench.

The Grizzlies, who never led in the game, were paced by Mike Miller with 19 points. Pau Gasol, who was still playing for Memphis during that game, added 18 points and 12 rebounds. Rudy Gay finished with 15 points.

The Lakers also won their second game with the Grizzlies on January 13, 2008 at home, 100-99 although this game might have caused them the title last season as Andrew Bynum, who was a key factor in the team's ascent to elite status at that stage of the season, sprained his left knee early in the third quarter. He played just 20 minutes and scored 10 points with 9 rebounds. Bryant scored 37 points and had 4 steals with 4 assists. Odom had 10 points and 10 rebounds while Farmar added 10 points off the bench.

Mike Miller scored 27 points and Pau Gasol, still playing for the Grizzlies, had 21 points and season-high totals of 18 rebounds and eight assists for the Grizzlies, who lost for the 10th time in their last 12 games.

The Grizzlies won their third meeting with the Lakers last season, 114-111 at the Staples Center on March 28, 2008. Pau Gasol was already playing for the Lakers, having been traded February 1, but missed the first meeting between the teams since he was traded with a sprained left ankle. Bryant had a spectacular game with 53 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 steals but his effort was "pretty much of a waste" as all his teammates in the starting lineup failed to score in double-figures. Ronny Turiaf, who started playing center in place of injured Pau Gasol, was 3-10 from the field for 6 points, Fisher was 2-7 for 4 points, Radmanovic was 3-8 for 9 points, and Odom was 1-7 for 2 points although he had 11 rebounds.

Vujacic scored 14 points off the bench although he had to take 17 field goal attempts to reach that, missing 10 of his 14 3-point attempts. Farmar was the only other bench players to score in double-figures with 11 points.

Darko Milicic had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Hakim Warrick 16 points, Kyle Lowry 11 and Mike Miller 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who were 6-30 on the road and 2-20 away from home against Western Conference teams. Kwame Brown, who was sent to Memphis as part of the Gasol trade, didn't play for the fifth consecutive game but Javaris Crittenton played 18 minutes and scored 6 points.

The Grizzlies now features a different line up having lost Mike Miller but have one of the top rookies O.J. Mayo and Pau Gasol's younger brother Mark, who was part of the trade that sent the older Gasol to the Lakers. But talent-wise, I believe they are basically the same and the Lakers should have no problem disposing the Grizzlies. Unless Bryant's teammates play as lousy as the've played the last two games or their last game against Memphis. After losing 2 straight games, expect Kobe to play his best game this night. But let's just hope that his teammates, especially Pau and Lamar, play the way they used to last year.

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