Streak's Over: The Grizzlies Wear Out in Portland

Well, let's just say this: Seven wins in a row is a good thing. Those seven wins are going to be helpful later. They've already been in terms of throwing the Memphis Grizzlies back into the giant melting pot that is the Western Conference right now. Streaks have to end sometime, and last night, Memphis worked to stay close through forcing Portland Trail Blazers turnovers, but the Grizz offense just wasn't there for much of the night, and Portland simply outmanned 'em in the second half, winning 97-84.

You could blame the fuel tank running low on the previous night's ridiculous, out-of-nowhere late comeback win against the Golden State Warriors, and you won't get much of an argument here. From the get-go, last night's game had the feel of one that, if won, would need to be done so as ugly as possible.

And certainly, it was ugly, but that's about it. When the Grizzlies' starting five gets outplayed to the tune that they did last night by the opposition's for stretches, it's going to be tough. The plus/minus (though imperfect, it's still useful) numbers go like this for Memphis' first group: Mike Conley -16, Tony Allen -28, Rudy Gay -17, Marreese Speights -19, and Marc Gasol -11. Yikes.

With those numbers, and the fact that only Gay scored in double figures (11 points on 15 shots) other than O.J. Mayo, it's funny to remember that Memphis only trailed by four going into the half. This came thanks to the Grizz getting themselves off the mat, after an early LaMarcus Aldridge barrage (Dude is an All-Star, if you're asking), by forcing turnovers and awesome Rudy Gay windmill dunks.

Then came that third quarter, where Memphis mustered 13 points on 3-for-16 shooting, and the wheels were just about off. Both teams were on the second night of back-to-backs (Portland actually being two-thirds through a triple-back), but they stayed home after beating up on the Kings Monday night, which always helps. Nonetheless, once the Blazers limited the turnovers a bit in the second half, they just hit a level the Grizzlies could not reach on this night.

Portland has become a rather trendy team so far this season because, with the waves of bodies (talented bodies, by the way) they can throw on the floor, it's going to be tough to match them from all sides, tough to navigate their constantly-interchanging long defense, anchored by Marcus Camby (22 boards, ouch), especially if you just don't have the legs for it.

All this Portland talk is to say, the Grizzlies are just fine. They got on a nice roll, beat some teams they should beat, and got themselves right back into the murky Western Conference middle. To lose in Portland, to that team, a night after fighting back to pull a win out of a loss in Golden State, isn't the worst thing, or even that surprising. Memphis has a solid bench of supplementary players who can come in and contribute on some level around the team's top five. If, however, none of the Grizzlies starters have it, all on the same night, well, that's how a streak ends.

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