As Chris Faulkner discussed here Monday night the Grizzlies fell to the Chicago Bulls 87-106. Yes, it was a preseason game, and yes, Marc Gasol, Quincy Pondexter, Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen did not play for rest reasons. So, take the loss with a big early October grain of salt. But there were still things that can be taken away from the game. And since some folks (such as myself) were likely unable to watch/listen to the game, those points can be gathered from the post-game box score. (editor's note: we do not yet have widgets for preseason box scores)
- Something tells me Coach Joerger will not be happy with his team's defensive focus, especially in the 3rd quarter. The Bulls scored 37 points in the 3rd quarter and shot 47% for the game. Now remember, the two best defensive Grizzlies (Gasol and Allen) did not play, so this likely had a decent bit to do with this. But the shooting percentage plus foul trouble (more on this later) for players like Zach Randolph, Ed Davis and Nick Calathes reflects poor rotations, foot speed and body positioning on shot defense.
- The number of free throws shot was just absurd. The Bulls shot 43, the Grizzlies 29. That is 72 free throws, and that is entirely too many. A usual NBA game would likely have anywhere between 45-55 free throws per game. Granted, as players get into condition and work on variations of scheme there will likely be some extra fouls. But 72 free throws? And the Bulls shooting 14 more than the Grizzlies? The refs are getting back into condition as well, apparently.
- Two of the players I focused on in my preview yesterday were the "European Crossover" Nick Calathes and "The Grindson" Jamaal Franklin. They both played 26 minutes last night, with only Jerryd Bayless playing more at 29 minutes. And both did some good things; Calathes had 8 assists, including a highlight lob to Tony Gaffney, a camp invitee. And Franklin made a 3 and grabbed 3 boards. But Calathes also had 3 turnovers, shot 50% from the free throw line and had 5 fouls as we discussed earlier, and Franklin and Calathes were also tied in another less desirable stat; +/-. -18, meaning that while they were on the court the Bulls outscored the Grizzlies by 18. Now, once again, grain of salt; the Grizzlies' leaders in that stat were Melvin Ely and Willie Reed, who played 14 minutes combined. But the numbers say that these two players had a mixed debut for Memphis.
- Kosta Koufos had a mixed bag debut as well. From reading my Twitter timeline and talking with our Kevin Yeung, it sounds as if he was used in the Gasol high-post facilitator role last night, which is good. But the numbers say it wasn't the best debut. 2-6 from the floor, 3 turnovers and only 2 rebounds and 18 minutes of play, which is concerning since the word out of camp was that he would play a ton and that he was gobbling up rebounds. Once again, just one preseason game and numbers aren't everything, but hopefully Kosta will have a better showing on Wednesday when the Grizzlies host the Dallas Mavericks in the first home preseason game on Beale Street.
Three Thoughts for the Road...
1. Mike Miller hit both of his three point shots and had the lowest +/- of anyone on the Grizzlies that played more than 15 minutes. Great to have him back.
2. The Bulls out-rebounded the Grizzlies 43-31 in the game. The rebounding game is arguably the most important aspect of Grizzlies success this season; defensively, you want to keep your opponent to one shot and offensively with our history of shooting woes you want multiple attempts at the basket. Something to keep an eye on moving forward.
3. The power forward position will be a fun one to watch all season. As Trisity and Chris said last night, Zach apparently looked to be in good shape and health. But 5 fouls is cause for concern, as is only grabbing 2 rebounds even in 17 limited minutes. Meanwhile, Ed Davis showed some flashes of positivity as well. 4-6 from the field, 5-7 from the free throw line (!!!), and tying for the team lead in rebounds with...Jon Leuer! Davis added a block to his stat line, while Leuer had 4 assists and 2 steals in a solid showing. If Davis and Leuer continue to develop, it would better the Grizzlies in the long run.
Once again, numbers only tell a part of the story, and in a preseason game (the first one, in particular) that part is already flawed a bit. However, it is good to look at the numbers and watch for growth and development as the month of October grinds on. 22 days from today, the games start to count in San Antonio.