NBA

Grizzlies-Lakers Preview

It's become a guessing game whether Kobe Bryant will play on a given night for the Los Angeles Lakers, and there are signs pointing to him sitting out again Tuesday night.

The Memphis Grizzlies probably wouldn't mind seeing the NBA's worst shooter on the court since Tony Allen has been tough on Bryant in the past.

The Grizzlies have beaten the Lakers nine straight times and have shredded their defense in three victories this season heading into this matchup at Staples Center.

Bryant has sat out the last two games due to his ongoing shoulder problems and coach Byron Scott continues to say that the retiring superstar is 50-50 for each contest.

"I don't mind it, I just don't have answers for you guys," Scott told the media at Monday's practice. "I wish I did. I don't know sometimes until game day. Or game time, really."

Bryant has sat out six of the last nine home games while playing in the Lakers' last eight on the road. Los Angeles (14-55) is starting a back-to-back set with Wednesday's game in Phoenix representing Bryant's last game in the desert.

The guard is shooting 35.6 percent - the worst mark in a single season by a qualifying player since Hot Rod Hundley shot 35.1 percent in 1960-61.

Bryant said earlier this season that Allen was the toughest defender he has faced so it would make even more sense to sit this one out.

"I'd love for him to play in all the games, just like you guys would and just like I know the fans would, but sometimes I don't think that's possible," Scott said.

The Grizzlies have shot 54.4 percent against the Lakers this season for their best mark against anyone. They've outscored Los Angeles by an average of 14.0 points and posted 67-point first halves in two February wins.

Memphis (41-30) is getting healthier with consecutive victories since veterans Zach Randolph and Vince Carter returned Saturday after a four-game slide. Point guard Mike Conley is expected to miss his 10th consecutive game with tendinitis.

The Grizzlies trailed by as many as 13 in Monday's 103-97 victory over Phoenix. Lance Stephenson scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead basket with 31 seconds left as part of an 8-0 closing run.

''It was defense,'' Stephenson said. ''Tony Allen came in and we got incredible stops. We were playing together defensively. We were aware."

Randolph had 14 points and 13 boards while former Lakers guard Jordan Farmar scored 12 off the bench in his club debut after signing a 10-day contract earlier in the day.

Farmar played the entire fourth quarter over Ray McCallum, who has started the last two games at point guard.

They will match up with struggling Lakers rookie D'Angelo Russell, averaging 9.0 points on 26.9 percent shooting in his last three games while sitting out the entire fourth quarter twice.

"In this league, a lot goes on with no explanation," Russell said. "And there will probably never be any explanation, especially for a rookie. When things like that go on, you've just gotta stick to your craft and trust the process."

Memphis has lost four of its last five in the second half of a back-to-back set.

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