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Five things to watch in Lakers-Grizzlies matchup

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1. Pacing The Lakers have four games this week including Tuesday against Memphis, Wednesday at Sacramento, Friday against Toronto and Sunday against Portland. Although the Lakers play only 15 sets of back-to-back games compared with the 20 last year, these series of games will surely test the Lakers' energy level fairly early.

Meanwhile, Memphis' matchup with the Lakers serves as the start of a four-game trip. That's why it shouldn't be surprising if both the Lakers and Grizzlies appear more cognizant of pacing themselves. Considering that the Lakers are the defending champions, the Grizzlies wouldn't necessarily dial it down. And since the team appears in a very hungry mood, I don't expect the Lakers to just mail it in either. But it shouldn't be surprising if the Lakers play at a more deliberate pace than in their first three games where they averaged a league-leading 111 points per game against high-energy teams in Houston, Phoenix and Golden State.

2. Can the starters get rest again? Forward Lamar Odom joked that he'd love it if every game turned out similarly to the team's 107-86 victory Sunday over the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers (3-0) coasted to a double-digit win, four of the starters cracked double digits, four of them played under 30 minutes and every player on the roster received playing time. It's not exactly a guarantee that the same scenario will play out against Memphis (2-1), considering that the Grizzlies are a much better team, featuring the talents of Rudy Gay (22.3 points per game) and former USC guard O.J. Mayo (19.3 ppg). It's also conceivable that Coach Phil Jackson will be worried more about limiting minutes against Sacramento simply because of the caliber of opponent. But it never hurts to get a head start.

3. Gasol vs. Gasol As I mentioned this morning, Pau and Marc Gasol are extremely competitive with each other. There's no reason why that shouldn't stand true this time around. But this matchup at center goes to Pau for reasons beyond the fact he's simply better than Marc and in six games against his former team averaged 16 points, 9.7 rebounds and four assists per contest. Pau won the Western Conference player of the week honor for the seventh time in his 10-year career, thanks to averaging through three games 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and two blocks per contest, a clip that speaks to the team's increased reliance on him in terms of playing time (a team-leading 38.3 minutes of burn a night thus far) and responsibility while Kobe Bryant continues to heal his surgically repaired right knee and Andrew Bynum remains in rehab from his.

The uncertainty surrounding Zach Randolph's status (bruised lower back) could make Jackson feel more comfortable that Gasol and Lamar Odom don't have to shoulder as much of the burden as if Randolph were fully healthy. Something tells me Gasol will relish every minute he can stay on the floor, even if it is a regular-season game in November.

4. Ron Artest vs. Gay This is the kind of matchup Artest flourishes in, where he can lock down on a specific high-profile scorer. Artest reiterates time and time again that he's more worried about team defense, and the complementary work he and Kobe Bryant performed on making Warriors guard Monta Ellis work for his 20 points truly illustrated that.

Gay's 17 points on seven of 17 shooting against Artest in the Lakers' 99-98 win in late February wasn't a huge drop off in performance compared to his season averages (19.6 points on 46.6% shooting). But Artest made him work for his shots.

It'll be interesting how the matchup tonight plays out, considering Gay's increased his season average in three games to 22.3 points on 41.1% shooting, while Artest has appeared more mobile and quick since then, thanks to entering training camp weighing 250 pounds.

5. Can the Lakers limit turnovers? The only thing Jackson lamented regarding the Lakers' comfortable win Sunday over Golden State involved the team's 20 turnovers. Even if the offensive chemistry appears fairly high early in the season, it's not entirely surprising for that number given the fast pace at which Golden State plays. But the Lakers should be aware of this category, as Memphis leads the league in steals (13.7) and forcing turnovers (21.7).

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers forward-center Pau Gasol guards his brother Marc during a game at Staples Center. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 
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The Lakers have not looked this crisp and cohesive, early in a season in as long as I can remember. Limiting the starters minutes is crucial, but I don't see it happening tonite. Should be a great game.

No on 19!

Someone needs use up a technical foul and knock Conley onto his backside tonight. That dude just got the Koncak Award from Memphis. Another overpaid underachiever... *sigh*


[dbdh]

Justa as she posts, a new thread comes up. The streak's alive.

You know I hate Luke for the same things I hate in myself - not athletic enough to make it to the next level (but I could actually shoot for more than 1 halfway decent 30 game span).

He still sucks though! :-p

70+ win Record this season.


First Five - Head Coach Phil Jackson


Gasol
Odom
Artests
Braynt
Fisher


Another first five.. Another head coach Brian Shaw


Bynum
Caracter
Barnes
Brown
Blake


Bench

Ratliff
Ebanks


DNP

Sasha
Walton


I have to congratulate Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison for not coming in first place in this pole: "The 50 Most Overhyped NBA Prospects Ever"

Kwame was listed as seventh worst and Adam came in twelveth place.

Way to go guys!!!

here's the link: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/503347-the-50-most-overhyped-prospects-in-nba-history

What do these teams think? It seemed like the Knicks had a roster-full of overpaid underachievers for years starting with Eddy Curry. The T'Wolves with Darko, the Magic with Rashard Lewis (who was picked the worst performer of the opening week by Smitty on NBA TV), Ben Gordon, Hedo Turkoglu, Kenyon Martin, Samuel Dalembert... The league is full of those guys - and full of GM's more than happy to pay them!

But Mike Conely for $40+ million? That might top them all! Is this guy even top-25 PG???

My god, some teams are continually BAD because they repeatedly make DUMB DECISIONS! Mike Conley??? Mike Conley???????????

BTW htj, Mitch has made relatively few mistakes in the past few years...

Sucks to be a Grizz fan!!!! Come to think of it, sucks to be a fan of 29 teams not owned by the Buss family!!!!!


GO LAKERS!!!!!

LRob & MVP888- Just because perennial losers give ridiculous contracts to mediocre to slightly above average players doesn't make it right.

I believe the three of us can agree that the Lakers fanbase holds the front office to a higher level of accountability than those of Memphis or Atlanta.

I guess I was just spoiled by us having Jerry West, arguably the greatest GM in the history of the NBA all those years. Expecting Mitch to pick up where the Logo left off was a bit unrealistic, but future waltonian mistakes aren't highly likely.

Posted by: htj | November 02, 2010 at 01:26 PM
-------------------

htj - Yes, I hold the Lakers FO to a higher standard than Atlanta and Memphis. I expect the Lakers FO to field a championship caliber team regardless of the financial implications. That's why I was adamant (like Phil) that the Lakers re-sign Odom. That's why I thought they needed to pay Phil and re-sign Shannon or someone of equal quality. As well as sign both rookies. FO did all of the above, proving again why they are the Lakers have the best organization in pro sports.

FYI...I don't consider Horford's deal a ridiculous contract.

Lew - LOL - thanks a lot! That's pretty good!

Hey guyz,who will agree with me that it will be a good move to have marc gasol once is contract expires next summer?maybe a sign and trade for bynum will be a better idea for me,right?what do you think?

htj and LRob

I agree with all of that. I don't think that Horford's contract is ridiculous according to NBA standards. That wasn't my implication. As a general rule, good bigs get big contracts. There are those in here who have expressed either outrage or contempt toward Andrew Bynum because of his big dollar contract, so I was simply putting into context the fact that Drew's contract is about market value. Despite his injury history, I believe he would be a relatively easy player to trade as opposed to a guy like Elton Brand who has a similar size contract but whose better days are clearly behind him.

Ron Artest is the most sane man in the world...I'm the crazy one!

http://hoopstopia.com/?p=76

jason_PHOEB,

Are you suggesting a straight up trade of Bynum for M. Gasol?
The first hurdle is the salary.
Bynum is at $13 mill.
Gasol is at $3.5 mill.

Or are you saying wait for Gasol contract to expire then pay him $13 mill-ish and then trade for Bynum?

Wonder how next years CBA might affect how much of a raise Gasol can get...


20 turnovers is a hand full of turnovers indeed. Let's see how it goes tonight, as the Grizs are more of a challenge than what we've gotten so far...

And, in the funky spirit we're today...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N7u4aYC-Kc
Coz it's all about the love!

@Cosmix - That's was my point, the Walton hiccup was a learning lesson for Mitch. It led to Sasha only getting a 3 year deal, and since then Mitch has only given up money to proven performers. He's learned from his mistakes and that's led to him being one of the best GM's in the league. Well, that and the fact that players look to get traded to Los Angeles and LA is top of the list for free agent destinations.

@LRob - I didn't mean Horford's deal specifically, but I think you got my point. Weaker organizations in undesirable cities (again not necessarily Atlanta or Memphis) are going to have to overpay borderline all-stars (or even lousy point guards with marginal upside) to field a team that if all the right pieces fall into place just might make the playoffs.

Z-Bo averaged 21pt/16 reb in the two games in Memphis last year. So obviously if Zach can't play it's a huge advantage for the Lakers. It'll allow them to focus more of their defensive help on Gay and OJ...plus create another mismatch for LO.

Last year both games in Memphis came down to the final possesion. With the Lakers winning by 1 and losing the other by 2.


it seems to me that at times some teams grab a player so the other guys don't get him, fortunately, this is not how the lakers roll, so even if some people don't like luke's contract, he is not going to hurt you, he's stable, knows the triangle and works well with others or would rather have an a.i.?

@DBDH - congrats on the RCOTD...very good!

@63 Footer – I’m working with Bootsy would have been wild. I always liked him because he could get into “character” as well as any of the P-Funk clan without letting his on stage alter ego smother William Collins.

@Cyber –Zep, Pink Floyd and Sabbath, that’s a heck of a Big Three…forget Miami!

@Justa – way to bring the Funk for circle tying it all together with Maceo, who played with James Brown, George Clinton and on Prince’s Musicology.

LRob - it happened to be a cartoon, and I don't remember much, but I recall having the villain scream at his minions: "On the one! On the ONE!!" It's the stupid things that keep me interested.

I liked your summation of Z-Bo being out and tonight's game. I think it'll be more like the Rocket game than the GS game. I can see Barnes coming up big in this game for some reason.

Oops disregard previous remarks about Zach's 21/16 avg in games in Memphis...for some reason I was thinking tonite's game was on the road. But since its at home...cruise city!

@Cosmix - That's was my point, the Walton hiccup was a learning lesson for Mitch. It led to Sasha only getting a 3 year deal, and since then Mitch has only given up money to proven performers. He's learned from his mistakes and that's led to him being one of the best GM's in the league. Well, that and the fact that players look to get traded to Los Angeles and LA is top of the list for free agent destinations.

Posted by: htj | November 02, 2010 at 03:17 PM
====

I'm not so sure that the Walton hiccup wasn't part Mitch, part Phil, part Dr. Buss, part market. Everyone knows PJ likes him. Everyone knows that Jerry Buss can be loyal to a fault. Luke put up some all around impressive numbers that year (11, 5, 4.3, 1 stl) as the Lakers third option and we don't know what the market was bearing for his services. He earned 4 mil the first year of that contract, 4.4 the next, 4.8 last season, etc. In other words, the first year of his deal was for 1.356 mil less than the MLE and it wouldn't surprise me if there were similar deals on the table for him given the season he just had. So while it is easy to trash Luke's contract, htj raises an excellent point about the fact that Mitch hasn't handed out long term contracts since then. At the time, I don't know many Lakers fans who didn't want Luke back. The retrospectoscope changed things.

I liked your summation of Z-Bo being out and tonight's game. I think it'll be more like the Rocket game than the GS game. I can see Barnes coming up big in this game for some reason.

Posted by: 63 Footer | November 02, 2010 at 03:54 PM
--------------------
yeah...that was before my retraction...lol. I don't it'll be quite as easy as GS, but definitely not as tough as Houston. At least it shouldn't be unless Rudy or OJ really explode...which is possible, but not likely for them at LA.

LRob - yeah, forget that. What were you thinking? I'm NEVER listening to you ever again!

I kid, I kid!

For your error:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGUF_P2FCvk

Vote for my pumpkin here ASAP!!! LIKE my pic #2...LIKE Laker Nation first. On top it says "The Laker Nation Profile". Click that then find their LIKE button, THEN you'll be able to LIKE my Kobe pic! SPREAD DA WORD!!! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=490273106071&set=a.490273071071.298164.16231931071&pid=7542712&id=16231931071

My god, some teams are continually BAD because they repeatedly make DUMB DECISIONS! Mike Conley??? Mike Conley???????????

Dude, you Lakerholic are tripping again, you need to put down the kool-aid jug. Mitch made some terrible deals himself, I don't care how you try an spend it Luke's a BUST. But he knows the triangle and make everybody better, your tripping. Sahsa, a BUST why can't you just be real, instead of real Stupid.
Lakers off to a nice start, but will lose to the Griz tonight, just a gut feeling. I still take the Heat in a seven games.

GO Heat

LRob - yeah, forget that. What were you thinking? I'm NEVER listening to you ever again!
I kid, I kid!
For your error:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGUF_P2FCvk
Posted by: 63 Footer | November 02, 2010 at 04:05 PM
-----------------------

Yep...hopefully the Lakers won't be saying this tonight:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gArUEEE1OF8

LRob - and the Aussies have arrived!

I'm thinking that the Griz might get off to a hot start, then we reel them back in. Bench will come up big, and we might see a sizzling third quarter from Kobe, just to twist the knife.

Where's my girl Justa? the girl got's FIRE. My kind of WOMEN, my blog partners in crime the TROLL CRUE Please Stand UP and be COUNTED.

cant wait to see marc the tank gasol light up the lakers for 30 tonight

Where's my girl 63 Footer? the girl got's FIRE. My kind of WOMEN, my blog partners in crime the TROLL CRUE Please Stand UP and be COUNTED.

I smell trolls. That feeling in your gut was probably because you are full of shyt.


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