By Eric Pincus
5:00 PM EST, November 23, 2012
The Lakers, who have not won a road game this season, will visit the first-place Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. Memphis and the New York Knicks have the best overall records (8-2) in the NBA.
The Grizzlies lost their season opener in Los Angeles to the Clippers. They've been off since their only other defeat, on Monday in Memphis to the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers were just beaten by the Kings in Sacramento on Wednesday.
Memphis is led by Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, all double-figure scorers. As a team, the Grizzlies have averaged 100.2 a game while allowing just 92.6 points.
The Lakers have had a relatively easy schedule this season, despite their 6-6 record. The Grizzlies may be their toughest challenge to date.
Both are power teams. The matchups between Dwight Howard and Randolph, and the Gasol brothers should be exciting.
Pau starts at power forward while Marc is a center, but the two will certainly get some time playing against each other.
Randolph and Marc Gasol average a combined 21 rebounds a game, matching 21 from Howard and Pau Gasol.
The Lakers' duo is averaging 33.2 points and 4.1 blocked shots; the Memphis counterparts are putting up 31.8 points and 2.0 blocked shots.
The tone for the game will likely be set inside. If it's played to a draw, the result may be more dependent on the perimeter players like Kobe Bryant, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay.
The Lakers will rely on Metta World Peace to try and contain Gay, whose 20.0 points a game is 12th best in the league. World Peace is having one of his best seasons in years, coming into camp in tremendous shape after recovering from back problems.
If World Peace can slow Gay while continuing to score in double figures, the Lakers may be able to steal one on the road.
The same can be said of Tony Allen, who guards Kobe Bryant about as well as anyone in the league. If he can force Bryant into an inefficient night, the Grizzlies would have a big advantage.
The Lakers will be a better road team once they get more time together under Coach Mike D'Antoni. Given that they're playing without point guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake, it may be too tall an order to expect a victory.
Instead, the Lakers may be more likely to dip below .500 with a loss in Memphis.ALSO: