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Lakers

Preview: Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies

Mike Conley, Kobe Bryant
Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley defends against Lakers star Kobe Bryant during a game in April 2013.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (1-5) won their first game of the season Sunday, defeating the Charlotte Hornets (3-4) by 15 points, 107-92.

On Tuesday, L.A. will have its first chance at a winning streak when the team visits the Memphis Grizzlies (6-1).

The Grizzlies are tied with the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors with the best overall records in the NBA.

Memphis gets its wins by holding teams to a league-low 87.6 points a game, but the Grizzlies only score 93.

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Forward Ryan Kelly is questionable with a sore hamstring.  The Lakers will again be without Nick Young (thumb), Julius Randle (broken leg) and Steve Nash (back).

Key matchup

The Grizzlies have an intimidating front line that includes center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph.

The pair have combined for an average of 36.5 points and 18.3 rebounds a game this season while shooting 50.5% from the field.

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If the Lakers can find a way to make Gasol and Randolph less efficient, they’ll have a shot at the upset — but that’s a very difficult task.

Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer will need to have big games, both offensively and defensively. Ed Davis and Robert Sacre will provide support off the bench.

Davis spent almost two seasons with the Grizzlies. He’s been a positive force for the Lakers this season and may be looking to show Memphis it made a mistake in letting him leave via free agency.

X-factor

The Lakers rely heavily on the offense of Kobe Bryant, but it was the 21 points from Jeremy Lin that helped L.A. surge past the Hornets on Sunday.

An aggressive Lin helps give the Lakers better floor balance.  Bryant isn’t going to be able to carry the team without another teammate helping to create on offense.

Lin is averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 assists a game while shooting 44.9% from the field and 38.9% from three-point range.

Mike Conley is steady at the point for the Grizzlies. He’s averaging 14.9 points and 6.0 assists a game while also proving to be a pesky defender.

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Memphis also has swingman Tony Allen, who does a credible job when matched up defensively against Bryant.

Outlook

Despite the difference in records, expect the Lakers to give a solid performance against the Grizzlies.

The Lakers have been relatively capable offensively so far this season; the bigger issue has been on the defensive end.

Memphis doesn’t have a high-powered offense, so the Lakers have a real chance Tuesday but are far from the favorite.

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


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