Last night I think we all agreed that this was an enormous game, albeit one that would give the Grizzlies serious problems.
Coach Lionel Hollins probably wouldn't say that the Grizzlies agreed. Sometime in the third quarter, one commentator mentioned that during a timeout Hollins didn't even draw up a play. He just wrote "EFFORT."
The Memphis Grizzlies just didn't have what it took to keep up their torrid scoring pace in the second half. Both teams shot close to 70% in the 55-53 first half. The Grizzlies had a distinct fall-off, the Atlanta Hawks just kept pouring in the buckets.
And the Hawk that lit up the second half was none other than Jamal Crawford, their explosive bench scorer. Crawford was absolutely every bit the difference in this game, and he proves how effective adding bench scoring to an already dangerous starting lineup can be.
Behind Crawford's incredibly efficient night, he scored 28 points in 27 minutes on just 14 shots, the Hawks handed the tired Grizzlies starters their fourth straight loss. Things like this just aren't supposed to happen to Cinderella.
Is it fair to expect the Grizzlies starters to be anywhere near the capacity to play with their full effort for almost 40 minutes each?
Darrell Arthur returned tonight, and got 19 minutes of decent run, but that barely touched the starters minutes. Of course they were shorter than usual, since this one was officially blown out with about 4 minutes to go, but Arthur seemed to mostly just replace Hasheem Thabeet's minutes (with Zach Randolph at center). Maybe that was only a function of playing the Hawks, who's frontcourt is a hybrid forward and true power-forward, but I've got a feeling that more Arthur means less Thabeet -- not less Marc Gasol or Z-Bo.
If the Grizzles plan on making the playoffs this season, which I believe they should, they still desperately need to upgrade the bench somehow.
Marcus Williams was brought off the bench for the second straight game in the place of Jamaal Tinsley, which is a move that I don't like. Besides that spectacular 'oop to Sam Young, I haven't seen Marcus Williams play a minute I loved this season. For a pass-first guard, he doesn't run a basketball team; he looks for his own shot.