Grizzlies face stiff challenge vs. Lakers

The Memphis Grizzlies opened up their season-long five-game homestand earlier this week with just their second loss of the season.

The Grizzlies now try to avoid putting together their first losing streak of the campaign as they host the former face of their franchise Pau Gasol and his Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Memphis began the 2012-13 campaign with a road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, but responded with an eight-game winning streak that matched a franchise record set from Jan. 11-25, 2004.

That run came to an end on Monday night as the Grizzlies dropped a 97-92 decision to the visiting Denver Nuggets, also halting Memphis' club-record 15- game home winning streak. The Grizzlies dropped their first home contest in the regular season since March 16 against the Toronto Raptors.

Rudy Gay had 22 points, Marc Gasol added 16 and Zach Randolph notched his 10th double-double in as many games this season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Randolph leads the NBA with 13.8 rebounds per game and is also averaging 16.7 ppg.

"Today we got what we deserved. The last game we didn't play that well, but the other team wasn't as talented as this team is. When you play with fire, sometimes you get burned," Gasol said, referring to a 94-87 win at Charlotte last Saturday.

Gasol was originally a second-round pick by the Lakers in 2007, but never played for the franchise. He instead was part of a package that Los Angeles sent to Memphis for Marc's brother Pau on Feb. 1, 2008.

Pau Gasol left the Grizzlies franchise as its all-time leader in 12 categories, including points, rebounds and blocks, and is averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game in 13 contests against his former club.

Marc Gasol has averaged 10.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 14 previous meetings with Los Angeles.

Like most of the Lakers roster, Pau Gasol didn't have his legs in Wednesday's 113-97 loss at the Sacramento Kings, which came one day after Los Angeles bested the Brooklyn Nets in Mike D'Antoni's debut on the bench. Gasol and Dwight Howard had just nine points each versus the Kings, with Gasol shooting 3-of-10 from the floor.

Kobe Bryant did his best to keep Los Angeles in the game by dropping a game- high 38 points, but still saw his club's three-game win streak snapped.

"We have to play harder than we played tonight," said a frustrated Howard. "It's tough to play through fatigue, but you have to find ways to stay together and win games."

D'Antoni was coaching just his second game despite being hired on Nov. 12 to replace Mike Brown. Recent knee replacement surgery had delayed his actual taking over on the sidelines and Bernie Bickerstaff was guiding the team on an interim basis following the firing of Brown on Nov. 9.

The Lakers won two of three versus the Grizzlies last season and have won seven of their last nine trips to Memphis.