Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

The Memphis Grizzlies will make a return visit to Los Angeles on Friday to face the Lakers as they try to pull out of their latest tailspin.

Following a 117-106 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 29, the Grizzlies returned home only to lose two of three games. The only victory came against the lowly San Antonio Spurs.

On Wednesday, Memphis was upended 116-111 by the Toronto Raptors as Ja Morant came close to pulling off a triple-double with 28 points, nine assists and a season-high eight rebounds. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 24 points for the Grizzlies, including 13 during a fourth-quarter rally.

The Raptors led by 19 points with 10:23 remaining and were up 106-96 with 5:41 to play. Memphis was within 108-103 with 3:15 left on a 3-pointer from Ziaire Williams before running out of gas.

“I thought our defensive activity was a lot better there (in the fourth quarter),” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We had them playing in the half court, (there was) physicality. We got some big rebounds. We played fast. There were a couple of possessions I wish I could take back to get us better organized. … I wish I would have slowed them down a little bit.”

Morant has averaged 25.6 points with 8.3 assists in eight games since returning from a 25-game suspension. But while Memphis won the first four games immediately after his return, they are 1-3 in the last four their star has been on the court.

When he was in Los Angeles a week ago, Morant put up 19 points and 10 assists in the defeat to the Clippers while playing in the same building he will visit Friday.

The Lakers are in a search for answers following a 110-96 defeat to the Miami Heat on Wednesday for their third consecutive loss. The Lakers are just 3-9 since winning the NBA in-season tournament just shy of a month ago.

Now comes a report from The Athletic that Lakers are dissatisfied with player rotations from head coach Darvin Ham and adjustments that are not being made.

The report suggested the issue was heightened when D’Angelo Russell was removed from the starting lineup on Dec. 23 at Oklahoma City. The Lakers won that game but have dropped four of their next five. Russell hasn’t played in the last two with a bruised tailbone.

Rui Hachimura also has missed the Miami game with a calf injury.

The Lakers’ Anthony Davis has been in top form with 29 points and 17 rebounds Wednesday, but LeBron James was held to 12 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Austin Reaves had 24 points in his return to the starting lineup.

“It’s a little bit of everything right now. We’re not executing,” said Davis, who added six assists and five blocked shots. “We got outworked. If we keep on this train, it’s not going to be good for us.”

The Lakers already have used 10 different starting lineups, with Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish joining James, Davis and Reaves on Wednesday.

“Our biggest thing is that no matter who is in the lineup, as long as we play with energy, effort and discipline for as much of the 48 (minutes) a game as possible, we can live with the results,” Ham said.

–Field Level Media

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