The Lakers (20-25) face the Grizzlies (31-13) on Friday evening in the first of three matchups this season. The game tips at 7:00 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet and 710 ESPN radio.
Below are three things to know ahead of the matchup:
ANTHONY DAVIS UPDATE
The Lakers have been without Anthony Davis since he hurt his foot in the first half against Denver on Dec. 16.
Darvin Ham has provided several updates over the last few days, all of which have been positive.
“He’s getting more and more on-court work,” said Ham. “Getting intense, 30- or 60-minute workouts. Lately he’s been pretty much pain free. Once that continues, we’ll see where he’s at and if he can get put back into the lineup.”
When asked if Davis had been running and jumping during those individual drills, Ham confirmed.
On Thursday at practice, Davis participated in the non-contact portions of the session.
After each workout, the medical staff monitors how his foot reacts, and thus far, he’s been “pretty much pain free,” Ham concluded. The ramp up will continue, with more updates to come as Davis eyes a potential return to games.
NBA TEAMS WITHOUT THEIR BEST PLAYER
Despite lacking the significant impact of Davis on both sides of the court, the Lakers have managed to go 8-9 in the last 17 games without him, and 9-11 overall on the season.
Here’s how many other NBA teams have coped without their best player this season:
- Dallas: 0-5 (.000) without Luka Doncic
- Indiana: 1-5 (.167) without Tyrese Haliburton
- Brooklyn: 1-4 (.200) without Kevin Durant
- Charlotte: 6-18 (.250) without LaMelo Ball
- Chicago: 1-3 (.250) without Zach LaVine (1-2 [.333] without DeMar DeRozan)
- Phoenix: 4-13 (.235) without Devin Booker
- New York: 1-2 (.333) without Jalen Brunson (Julius Randle hasn’t missed a game)
- Sacramento: 1-2 (.333) without De’Aaron Fox (1-1 without Domantas Sabonis)
- Cleveland: 2-4 (.333) without Donovan Mitchell
- Atlanta: 2-3 (.400) without Trae Young
- Washington: 8-12 (.400) without Bradley Beal
- Clippers: 10-15 (.400) without Kawhi Leonard (6-10 [.375] without Paul George)
- Portland: 5-7 (.417) without Damian Lillard
- Golden State: 6-8 (.429) without Steph Curry
- Lakers: 9-11 (.450) without Anthony Davis (4-6 [.400] without LeBron)
- Boston: 1-1 (.500) without Jayson Tatum (5-0 without Jaylen Brown)
- Denver: 2-2 (.500) without Nikola Jokic
- Toronto: 5-5 (.500) without Pascal Siakim
- Miami: 7-7 (.500) without Jimmy Butler
- Minnesota: 13-13 (.500) without Karl Anthony-Towns
- New Orleans: 9-7 (.563) without Zion Williamson
- Memphis: 4-3 (.571) without Ja Morant
- Milwaukee: 6-4 (.600) without Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Philadelphia: 7-4 (.636) without Joel Embiid
- OKC: 3-1 (.750) without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Several of those records can be taken with a grain of salt, particularly those with the smaller sample sizes of only a few games. Furthermore, few of those players are as impactful as Davis, making it a larger lift for the Lakers to survive without him.
Of the players on his level, such as Jokic, Doncic, Antetokounmpo, Durant, Tatum, Embiid or Booker, only Booker and Giannis have a sample of at least 10 games.
Nonetheless, what’s clear is that only three teams (New Orleans, Milwaukee and Philadelphia) in the NBA have a + .500 record when missing their best player for at least 10 games.
MOLTEN HOT MEMPHIS
The Grizzlies head into Crypto.com Arena playing the best basketball in the Association, carrying a league-best 11-game winning streak. New Orleans is the only top four team in either conference that they’ve beaten during this run, which serves as the caveat. But … 11 wins in a row is great regardless of the opposition, and second only to the 12-game streak from Brooklyn that concluded on Jan. 2.
Memphis, who boasts the NBA’s No. 1 defense and No. 6 offense, leaving them second overall in net rating to Boston, shares one thing with the Lakers: they dominate in the paint on offense.
In fact, the Grizzlies rank first in the NBA in points in the paint per game at 59.4, with the Lakers second at 56.9. Memphis scores 50.5 percent of its points inside.
Where the teams differ is on defense, where the Grizzlies allow only 47.2 points in the paint, good for fourth-fewest in the NBA. The Lakers, on the other hand, concede 52.9 inside, which is sixth-most in the league.
The absence of Anthony Davis is certainly hurting L.A., while Memphis has become dominant coinciding with the return of paint-patroller Jaren Jackson, Jr., who debuted on Nov. 15.
From the start of the season to Nov. 14, Memphis was 20th in defense, with a rating of 112.4. They were 11th on offense, with a 9-5 record. But with JJJ back, they have a defensive rating of 107.6, easily leading the NBA over No. 2 Cleveland (109.7), towards a 22-8 record.