After falling to the Indiana Pacers (43-13) on Tuesday, the Lakers (19-38) travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies (31-24) on Wednesday.
Like Indiana, the Grizzlies are one of the top defensive teams in the league. The Pacers easily handled the Lakers by 20 points (118-98).
Memphis only averages 94.8 points a night offensively but the Lakers give up 106.2. The Grizzlies are also trying to inch up from ninth place in the Western Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind the Phoenix Suns (33-23).
Meanwhile, the struggling Lakers will play without Nick Young (knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), Kobe Bryant (knee) and Xavier Henry (knee).
Marc Gasol has struggled this season through injury, missing 23 games, but the Memphis center is back on the floor, averaging 13.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists a night.
In addition to being a strong defender (winning the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year last season), Gasol is a vital part of his team's offense -- often setting up in the high post while teammate Zach Randolph plays down low.
The Lakers need a big night from Pau Gasol, who is averaging 17.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
The Gasol matchup is always entertaining. Marc is a bit stronger and more physical. Pau is a bit more versatile as an individual scorer near the basket.
In three games with the Lakers, since a trade from the Golden State Warriors, Kent Bazemore is averaging 18.3 points a game while shooting 45.2% from the field.
The Lakers are still adjusting to losing Steve Blake, adding instead two more-individualistic scorers in MarShon Brooks and Bazemore.
Bazemore will face Memphis defenders like Tayshaun Prince, Courtney Lee and Tony Allen.
Mike Conley is a vital component in the Grizzlies' offense, scoring 17.9 points with 6.2 assists a night.
The Lakers have trouble generally containing penetration. Between Conley driving and Marc Gasol orchestrating his team through the high post, the Grizzlies can be difficult to guard.
Memphis plays at a relatively slow pace. Look for the Lakers to try to speed up play, with a greater focus on scoring than defense.
The Lakers are playing for a lottery pick. The Grizzlies are pushing to make the playoffs.
On a back-to-back night, the Lakers should have a difficult time getting a win in Memphis.
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