Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Woof. The Grizzlies split the season series with the Suns 2-2 tonight on a game that featured some great play... and some horrible play.
Tonight, the Grizzlies and Suns played a great game until the fourth quarter, at which point the Grizzlies stopped playing well and the Suns kept doing it. Tony Allen summed it up best in the locker room afterwards: "We showed some signs of being a good team, and we showed signs of being a bad team."
The first quarter ended up 27-27, in an outburst of scoring from both teams. Zach Randolph had 8 and 3 for the Grizzlies, but on the defensive end, he wasn't doing much of anything to stop Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola. Gortat ended the first quarter with 13 points, and Scola had 6. Jerryd Bayless had 6 for the Grizzlies in the first, playing off the ball a lot.
The second quarter saw the Griz go down by 10 and come back, and also saw an indefensible Bayless/Tony Allen/Austin Daye/Randolph/Arthur lineup do some terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things. Ed Davis came in and played almost 5 minutes. He went 0-2 but he made some good plays. It was obvious that he was still getting the hang of things. At one point Mike Conley tried to lob it to him for a dunk but he didn't know when to jump, and it resulted in his shot getting jacked into the front row. Hollins moved Bayless back off the ball and he went off for 8 points, including 2 of 3 from long range.
At halftime, I ate some popcorn and pondered the goodness of Tayshaun Prince. I thought about creating a Tayshaun Prince Fan Club. I referred to him as the "Ptayshaundactyl" on Twitter.
If the first quarter was unexpectedly high-scoring, the third was... expectedly low. With 8:30 left to play in the third, the Grizzlies had only scored 2 points, and so had the Suns. Not exactly high-powered offensive basketball. Marc Gasol picked up his fourth foul on a pretty questionable call, but Dick Bavetta was probably daydreaming about when he used to hang out with Marcus Aurelius back in the day. (Get it? He's old.) He made some great defensive plays and some great passes, but at some point during the third quarter I realized that the object of my new Griz-fatuation (the aforementioned Mr. Prince) was shooting 3-10. I still like him, though.
By the end of the 3rd, Bayless had scored 18, Z-Bo had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Prince had 11/5/4, and the Grizzlies were winning 71-65. The New Look Grizzlies seem to be doing okay so far, though at times it's clear they're going to need more playing time to truly gel. Some passes are still ending up in some strange places.
By the 9 minute mark of the 4th quarter, Bayless had scored 20 points, and Ed Davis had gotten on the board. Speaking of Ed Davis: now that I've seen him in person? He's not that big. He's shorter than Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince, and he looks like he might blow away in a stiff gust of wind.
Austin Daye played terribly to start the fourth quarter. He struggled to get open and forced Bayless -- running backup point tonight like Tony Wroten doesn't exist -- to have to improvise, and it didn't go well. By the 5:50 mark, the game was tied up at 79 while Gasol (who was having a terrible night, not making shots, not taking very many shots, not getting to the free throw line, and getting torched by Marcin Gortat and manhandled by an ancient Jermaine O'Neal) sat with 5 fouls.
Darrell Arthur struggled shooting all night, and the game stayed tied or close to it through most of the 4th quarter. For whatever reason, this Suns team has matched up well with the Grizzlies all year, and it sucks to watch.
So the end of the game was a travesty wrapped in a dirty diaper wrapped in a burning pile of garbage. Gasol fouled out on a questionable call, and Hollins put Arthur, who had been playing terribly all night, back in instead of Ed Davis or whoever else. With stupid turnover after stupid turnover, poor defensive play after poor defensive play, and dumb move after dumb move, the Grizzlies allowed themselves to be down 92-88 with 50 seconds left.
And then Tayshaun Prince missed Jerryd Bayless with an inbounds pass (to be clear: Bayless thought the ball was going to Z-Bo and wasn't even looking at Prince, and the ball sailed right past him) and it went out of bounds. And Kevin Pelton tweeted this:
Rudy Gay would have successfully inbounded the ball.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) February 6, 2013
Suns ball. People started filing out in droves and the Grizzlies were forced to start fouling. And then... with 32 seconds left, the Suns screwed up an inbounds play of their own. Suddenly, down 94-90, the Griz had the ball back and 32 seconds to try and take back the game. And then Darrell Arthur missed another shot, and had to foul Gortat, and that was all she wrote.
The Grizzlies scored 19 points in the 4th and the Suns scored 31. And that isn't going to cut it, no matter who they're playing.