WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis- Andrew Harrison (Questionable, Wrist), Mike Conley (Out, Heel), Ivan Rabb (Out, Heel)
Los Angeles- Josh Hart (Out, Hand), Brandon Ingram (Out, Groin)
Projected Starting Lineups-
Memphis- Tyreke Evans, Dillon Brooks, Jarell Martin, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Los Angeles- Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez
Just when you think this season can’t get any worse, the Grizzlies turn around and surprise you yet again.
I thought a 19 game losing streak would be rock bottom on this season. The return of Tyreke Evans (and others) would keep the Grizzlies competitive enough with teams to finish out the season to stop us fans from losing our minds. Instead, the Grizzlies hit a new low on Thursday night losing to the Charlotte Hornets by 61 (sixty freaking one!) points for the worst loss in franchise history. The 50 point loss to the Warriors was bad, but at least it was the Warriors. The Grizzlies just lost to a Charlotte Hornets team stuck in mediocrity, and without Dwight Howard, by 61 points!
The Grizzlies have since returned home from their embarrassing loss and have to get ready to play against a Lakers team looking to snap a 4 game losing streak. The Lakers have nothing to lose this season, as their first round pick will likely belong to the Philadelphia 76ers so this is no ordinary tank battle. The Lakers have, at the very least, an interesting young core with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle capable of putting up big numbers.
The Grizzlies have to turn the other cheek and be ready for this Lakers squad, unless they want to get embarrassed again. Here’s a few things the Grizzlies need to do to at least get some respect back to their name.
Play with Pride
You don’t lose by 61 on accident. You don’t get down 33 points to the 76ers by accident. The Grizzlies followed up a valiant effort against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday with two pitiful performances against the Sixers and Hornets. It’s obvious, after reports that some players were laughing after the 61 point loss, this Grizzlies team lacks pride. The loss is no laughing matter, as Joe Mullinax puts it. The Grizzlies need to find their pride, and fast, before the season ends. Save for a handful of players, nobody on this roster is guaranteed a lifetime in the NBA, or even another contract beyond their current one.
This tanking season has been brutal, it’s broken some fans and now potentially some players as well. This team, from the coaches and veterans to the rookies, need to show up tonight with some pride in being a Memphis Grizzly. Pride alone won’t win you a single game, but it will stop you from getting embarrassed. The Grizzlies need to find their pride before they do anything else.
At least try on defense
The Lakers aren’t good at much, but they are pretty good at scoring points, as they are a top-10 team in the league in points per game. The Grizzlies just gave up 140 to an average Hornets offense, so if they show up with the same defensive effort, the Lakers could end up looking like the Rockets or Warriors. This ties in a little with the pride discussion, but the Grizzlies need to put forth a much better effort on the defensive end. Getting Marc Gasol back will help, as he’s instrumental in the communication on the defensive end, but he can’t do it alone.
Reke can’t get torched by Isaiah Thomas the same way he was by Kemba Walker. The bench can’t let no-name players fly by them for easy buckets. The Grit-N-Grind identity of this team is long gone and with it so is the stout defense Grizzlies fans are accustomed too. This problem can’t be fixed overnight, as some of the young players just don’t have the knowledge, but the team can at least put forth a respectable effort on that end of the floor. There is a difference between bad defense and lazy defense, and the Grizzlies have been lazy of late. That needs to change.
The Grizzlies are in a heated race to get the #1 lottery odds for the draft lottery. The Lakers are a young team trying to figure out their identity and who belongs on the team when they, potentially, sign a star player or two this summer. Maybe the Grizzlies will come out inspired and make a statement after Thursday’s loss. The most likely outcome, however, is yet another Grizzlies loss.
I expect the Grizzlies to put up a much better effort, but it won’t be enough to defeat the Lakers, especially considering their will probably be more Lonzo Ball & Kobe Bryant jerseys in the stands than Grizzly jerseys.
Lakers 115 Grizzlies 102