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Game preview: Memphis at Lakers

Marc Gasol's participation in the game is still a question mark for the Grizzlies

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (22-14, 9-7 away) at Los Angeles Lakers (12-25, 7-10 home)

WHEN: 9:30 PM CT

WHERE: Staples Center, Los Angeles

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT

Memphis: Marc Gasol (questionable, ankle), Brandan Wright (out, knee), Deyonta Davis (out, foot)

Lakers: Larry Nance (out, knee)

PROBABLE STARTERS

Memphis: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

Lakers: D'Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Luol Deng, Julius Randle, Timofey Mozgov


2017 is here for the Grizzlies! There are lots of expectations and wishes for a team that has over-performed during the first part of the season with a roster hit by injuries. At the moment, Memphis sits comfortably in the sixth position of the Western Conference with a 22-14 record. They are six and half games ahead the eighth seed and half a game behind the fourth seed.

Marc Gasol is having a career year, Mike Conley has played terrific basketball despite missing 12 games, Zach Randolph will have his shot at the Sixth Man of the Year award, and Chandler Parsons is trying to get in shape after only playing 11 games this season. The rest of the rotation players are mostly doing well, and it will be interesting to see this team heading to the playoffs.

The Grizzlies won the last two games of 2016 and will look to extend their streak against the Lakers in Los Angeles. They will try to do so with a healthy roster with the exception of the backup centers Brandan Wright and Deyonta Davis. Marc Gasol, who sprained his ankle last Saturday, will be a game-time decision.

The magic formula

In the last couple of games, the Grizzlies have been shooting the lights out from the perimeter. As a matter of a fact, they broke the franchise record for the most triples in a single game with 17 against Sacramento. At the same time, the defense has been clicking. When this happens, Memphis is almost unbeatable.

The Grizzlies are 9-0 when averaging over 36 percent from downtown and limiting opponents to fewer than 100 points. In any case, Memphis has shown signs of inconsistency in perimeter shooting this season, and ranks 22nd in the league in three point percentage.

The Grit and Grind hallmark still prevails in Memphis Grizzlies basketball. Coach David Fizdale's philosophy at the beginning of the season revolved around spreading the floor and shooting more threes. When both defense and triples work out, it is an proven recipe for success in Memphis.

The January belt-tightening

The New Year hangover is out of the way and everyone is back to their routine now. The price increase in products at the beginning of the year, the cold weather, and the over-spending on food and Christmas presents make people stay home in the warmth during January.

In my home country of Spain, we describe this phenomenon as 'la cuesta de enero'. It refers to the financial struggle to get to the end of the month. Cuesta means hill (uphill in this case) and enero means January. It could be translated as the January belt-tightening.

The Grizzlies welcome the New Year with a road trip to California, which they started in Sacramento last Saturday. They will now face the Lakers, the Clippers, and the Warriors. That will be followed by an incredibly tough month with many games on road and or against playoff teams. It will definitely be a January belt-tightening for Memphis.

The Lakers' plummet

After a promising start of the season with a 10-10 record, the Lakers have fallen in the standings with a current 12-25 in the win-loss column. They have lost the 13 of the last 15 games and look like a lottery team again.

In this respect, the Lakers lost two starters, Nick Young and D'Angelo Russell, for several games during this run due to injuries. They are also one of the four teams in the NBA who are giving up more than 110 points per game.

The last time these two teams met, Memphis escaped with the win despite the 44-point effort from the Lakers candidate to Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams. The Grizzlies were without Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Vince Carter and James Ennis for that game. The Lakers did not have Young and Russell.

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