Preview: Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Lakers (10-22) finally won their 10th game of the season by outshooting the Nuggets (13-19) in Denver on Tuesday night. On Friday, they Lakers host one of the top teams in the Western Conference when the Memphis Grizzlies (23-8) visit Staples Center.

Memphis forward Zach Randolph has sat out the team's last five games because of a knee injury. The Grizzlies lost the first three of those before settling down with wins over the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.

Center Marc Gasol missed practice Wednesday because of an illness but is listed as probable to play against the Lakers.

The Lakers' Ed Davis (broken nose) is expected to play, as is Ryan Kelly (hamstring), who has played in only three games all season.

Key matchup

The Lakers and Grizzlies run their offense through the post, but use very different players.

Gasol is a threat both as a shooter from the high post or as a playmaker. He's also capable of scoring and passing closer to the basket against the Lakers' big men combination of Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Davis, Carlos Boozer, Tarik Black and Kelly -- whoever Coach Byron Scott chooses throughout the game to guard Gasol.

With Randolph paired with Gasol, the Grizzlies might be a championship contender, but they're at a disadvantage until Randolph is healthy.

Boozer has been the Lakers' best scoring big man of late with Hill slumping.  Davis can also score but has limited range, and will be trying to play with a mask to protect his nose.

Meanwhile, the Lakers play through Bryant, who has been a willing passer of late. The Grizzlies might not double team him, given the individual defensive ability of Tony Allen.

X-factor

Mike Conley is a consistent threat, as penetrator and outside shooter. The veteran guard is averaging 18.3 points a game, second to Gasol's 20.1.

Conley is also averaging 6.0 assists a game while shooting 46.5% from the field and a steady 43.3% from three-point range.

Ronnie Price has played well of late.  He, and Jeremy Lin, will need to occupy Conley on both ends of the floor.

Outlook

The Grizzlies are somewhat vulnerable without Randolph.  If the Lakers can duplicate the shooting touch they displayed in their win over the Nuggets, they could be able to pull out the win over a better, but short-handed, team.

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

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