Preview: Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies

The Lakers face a tough Grizzlies defense tonight in Memphis

The Lakers (16-44) hope to avoid a four-game losing streak as they visit the Memphis Grizzlies (43-17) on Friday night.

The Grizzlies have serious championship aspirations this season and are arguably the best defensive team in the league.

Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley have been joined recently by forward Jeff Green, acquired from the Boston Celtics in trade.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are short-handed with Nick Young out with a knee injury, along with Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back), who are all done for the season.

Vince Carter is questionable (foot) for the Grizzlies.

Key matchup

The Lakers originally selected Marc Gasol with the 48th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, but included him in the trade to Memphis that landed Pau Gasol -- leading to two Lakers championships.

Marc Gasol started at center for the Western Conference All-Star team, and is having a tremendous season for the Grizzlies.

Through 60 appearances, Gasol is averaging 18.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 blocks.

Memphis runs a lot of their offense through Gasol at the high post, especially in crunch time where his shooting and playmaking are deadly threats.

The Lakers have a relatively solid platoon of bigs, including Robert Sacre, Ed Davis, Jordan Hill, Carlos Boozer and Tarik Black.

Of course, Gasol is paired with Randolph, another powerful post player the Lakers will try to contain.

X-factor

Green gives the Grizzlies another scoring threat, though his numbers are down since joining the team.

Through 23 games in Memphis, Green is averaging 11.7 points on 39.3% shooting from the field and 31.9% from three-point range.

In Boston, where he was one of the team's primary offensive players, he scored 17.6 points a night on 43.4% and 30.5% shooting.

The Lakers are still experimenting with Ryan Kelly at small forward, though he's better suited at power forward.

Wesley Johnson is one of the Lakers' best perimeter defenders and may get the assignment if Green is having a big game.

Outlook

The Lakers have played the Grizzlies well this season, without a win.  Friday should have a similar outcome.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

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