The Los Angeles Lakers have completed 30 games and lost 25 of them. However, the final 12 minutes of those 30 games went down as LA's best quarter of the season. Trailing big, the Los Angeles Lakers outscored the LA Clippers 27-9 over the final 12 minutes of a Christmas night game at Staples Center.
Still, the Lakers still lost the nationally televised game by 10 points, though those 12 minutes displayed positive signs from Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell, in particular. Russell finished as the Lakers' leading scorer with 16 points on 7-13 shooting. Randle finished with 11 points and eight rebounds to again flirt with a double-double. Randle is tied for 15th in the NBA with 12 double-doubles on the season, and he would likely have more if he had not been limited in minutes and sent to the reserves 10 games earlier.
Both of the Lakers' young stars are fighting for minutes, but LA coach Byron Scott did not intend to implement any changes to his starting lineup or bench rotations for the remainder of the year, which adds up to three games: At Memphis; at Charlotte; and at Boston.
On Sunday, the first of those three games tips off early when the 16-16 Memphis Grizzlies play host to the out-of-sorts Lakers. Memphis dropped its last two games, but the Grizzlies boast a 9-6 home record, including two-game home winning streak. To put that in perspective, the Lakers only have two home wins in total this season.
The Lakers have three of their five wins on the road, and LA actually managed a win in its last game away from the friendly confines of Staples Center. As such, the Lakers can start a road winning streak on Sunday, and any type of winning streak would be welcome for the purple and gold this season. LA has yet to win two games in a row this season.
On Sunday, the Grizzlies are on the second night of a back-to-back after traveling back from Charlotte following Saturday's defeat in Charlotte. As such, the early start should provide the Lakers with a scheduled advantage.
Memphis recently moved Zach Randolph to the bench, and the veteran forward muscled up 18 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes on Saturday. Randolph's averages are down across the board this season. The 34-year-old is averaging 13.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game. If and when Randle and Randolph matchup, the physicality should prove to be entertaining viewing.
Memphis’ anchor continues to be Marc Gasol, who has started all 32 games for the Grizzlies this season. Averaging nearly 35 minutes per game, Gasol scores 16.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists per contest, which is in line with recent seasons. The Spaniard's shooting percentage is down slightly to 46.7 percent from his career average of 50.6 percent, but the drop-off does not set off alarm bells.
The Lakers and Grizzlies tip-off at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
Notes: Randle was nursing a sore ankle, but LA's injury report did not list the forward. so his should be cleared to play.