Grizzlies 86 Raptors 99
Coach Dave Joerger : (F)
Words cannot describe how disappointed I am at the lack of adjustments shown by Joerger tonight, hence putting him in my post to vent my frustration. Each and every Grizzlies starter were outmatched on both end of the floor during the entire game, but Joerger pretty much decided to just play things out, hoping that sticking to the same formula again and again would yield a different result. Reality check. No.
Starting at the front line, Jonas Valanciunas was eating Zbo alive, and Amir Johnson was causing all sorts of problems on Gasol with his mobility. Why didn't Zbo and Gasol switch defensive assignments? Better yet, why didn't we play our mobile bigs to match up when the Grizzlies were getting beaten to the spot on both ends all night? Leuer and JJ could have changed the trend of this game but no adjustments were made.
Here is a fact that will make your head spin: Tayshaun Prince played more minutes than any other Grizzly, he played almost three quarters of the game. Let that sink in for a minute. Yes he was doing an excellent job defensively on DeRozan in the 1st quarter, but DeRozan clearly knew it wasn't going to be his night so he did the right thing by facilitating instead of forcing the issue, that basically took away Prince's only value on the court starting from the 2nd quarter, but again no adjustments were made.
The Grizzlies fought long and hard to get themselves into a 1-point game with 9 minutes to play and were already in the bonus shortly after, that is a massive advantage in the NBA. However Joerger decided to sub Leuer with Prince which completely destroyed the Grizzlies' floor spacing, the Raptors simply ignored Prince and TA, clogging the paint to make life miserable for the bigs. Joerger should have taken Prince out as soon as he saw the lack of spacing. He should have taken Tony Allen out as soon as he started to make a comedy of errors on both ends of the floor. He should have called a timeout as soon as he saw the Grizzlies not attacking the basket while in the bonus as well as getting burned on the defensive end.
By the time Joerger made the switch to Lee for TA (by calling his first timeout of the 4th), the Grizzlies were already down 10 with 3 minutes to play. By the time Miller came in for Prince, they were down 12 with 1:57 to play. It was the most frustrating of games to watch as the Grizzlies played right into the hands of the Raptors, all the potential counter matchup moves were planted firmly on the bench watching it all melt down.
James Johnson saying that he doesn't know his role on the team could be a problem going into the stretch run/playoffs.— Salil Goorha (@neo_real_ist) March 15, 2014
Joerger made the ballsy decision to play JJ against the Pelicans in the 4th quarter on Wednesday night, it was almost a no-brainer to do exactly the same during tonight's 4th quarter (hello, bonus situation. Hello, drawing fouls with JJ's ability to attack the basket). But instead JJ played 50 seconds of garbage time while Prince logged THIRTY-FIVE minutes. The Grizzlies would not shoot a single free throw during the bonus until garbage time had already started.
Obviously it was a poor performance by just about every Grizzly so they did not deserve to win, but with better adjustments by Joerger, the outcome could have been so much more different. Excruciating to watch as the players were put into a position to fail.
On with the player grades.
Zach Randolph : (C) 33 MIN 16 PTS 7-13 FG 8 REB 1 AST 1 BLK 2 TO, -10
Did most of his damage on the offensive end during the 1st half but was absolutely annihilated defensively by Valanciunas all game. Played ineffectively during the 2nd half as he was unable to get into good position on the low block. Missed free throws part of an alarming trend of poor free throw shooting by the Grizzlies the entire game.
Tayshaun Prince : (D+) 35 MIN 4 PTS 2-8 FG 1 REB 2 AST 2 TO, -10
It wasn't his fault that Joerger played him 35 minutes, his playing time was extended to keep DeRozen quiet, but the lack of contribution on all other areas gave the Raptors a license to sag on defense in a big way. Found himself dominating the ball during the 4th quarter because that's exactly what the Raptors wanted. This Prince problem needs to be solved if the Grizzlies are serious about contending this season. If JJ is deemed too "volatile" to start, then consider Miller instead.
Marc Gasol : (C-) 33 MIN 8 PTS 3-8 FG 3 REB 5 AST 4 BLK, -14
Worked hard on the defensive end all night in a game that the Grizzlies guards were beaten off the dribble regularly. Was clearly gassed anchoring the patchy defense plus trying to match Amir Johnson's energy and mobility. This affected his rebounding and his aggressiveness on the offensive end as he was unable to fight for his spots on the court effectively. Credit the Raptors for identifying the need to limit Gasol which heaped on a tremendous amount of pressure on the rest of the Grizzlies.
Courtney Lee : (B) 27 MIN 12 PTS 5-9 FG 3 REB 1 BLK, +0
The only backcourt player that wasn't embarrassed on the defensive end, should have played a lot more during the 4th quarter as the Raptor's PG duo of Lowry and Vasquez were going wild during their run. His presence would have stabilised the defense when TA was overplaying on multiple occasions, plus he could have solved that stinking turd of an offense during the fateful stretch. A missed opportunity for CLee to perform in the crunch.
Mike Conley : (D-) 27 MIN 10 PTS 4-12 FG 6 REB 6 AST 1 STL, -14
His performance on defense is unequivocally an F. Smoked by Lowry in the 1st, picked apart by Vasquez in the 2nd, monstered by Lowry again during crunch time. Offensively he is still struggling to finish in traffic, lost his composure during the 4th where his defensive struggles frustrated him into poor shot selection on offense. I'm beginning to worry about his recent spotty performances, there's no room for error for the Grizzlies going forward, might he not be 100% physically?
Tony Allen : (E) 21 MIN 10 PTS 5-7 FG 3 REB 1 STL 5 TO, -14
The "Grindfather" TA took a backseat in this game and was replaced by good ol' "Trick or Treat" Tony. Started the game hot but was nothing short of diabolical the rest of the way. Fouling 3 pointer shooters? check. Offensive fouls and walks? check. Overplaying on defense which completely killed all momentum in the 4th quarter? check, check, check. He will probably be the first person to take ownership of this performance and make the necessary adjustments going forward, shake it off tomorrow!
Nick Calathes : (B-) 18 MIN 11 PTS 3-3 FG 8 REB 2 AST 2 STL, +1
Played a decent game but his biggest weaknesses once again crept into this game. Poor free throw shooting, poor 3-point defense and a costly turnover during crucial moments all impacted the game. The three-pointer, throwaway and layup plus harm given up to Vasquez started the Raptors run in which they would never look back. 4th quarter execution an absolute key to continue his surprising development within a short amount of time.
Mike Miller : (D+) 18 MIN 4 PTS 1-4 FG 1-2 3P 2 TO, -7
Raptors made a concerted effort to run Miller off the 3 point line, essentially making him a long 2 point jump shooter as he seems allergic to drive all the way to the the rim. If Miller's offense isn't clicking, he offers very little else. His sloppy handling also didn't help the cause.
Kosta Koufos : (C+) 15 MINS 6 PTS 2-5 FG 2 REB, +2
Missed two easy opportunities in the 2nd quarter that could have pushed the Grizzlies out to a double digit lead. An uphill battle for the Grizzles thereafter. Had to work hard against the Raptors' athletic bigs but held his own.
Jon Leuer : (C) 10 MINS 3 PTS 1-5 FG 1 REB 1 STL, +3
Slightly trigger happy during his first stint on the court resulting in missed contested jumpers. Was happy to see him starting the 4th quarter and was finally able to make a bucket and harm, however was subbed off almost immediately to begin the fateful run. Needs to hit his free throws badly in order to stay on the court longer.
The under-utilisation of of JJ must be laughable to other NBA teams right now, as I can bet that 100% of opponents would rather see Prince on the court than Bloodsport. If this trend continues till the end of the season and Prince isn't offloaded during the offseason, we could lose the most explosive and entertaining contributor to this organisation, just as he fell onto our lap, we might lose him because Joerger favours a way-over-the-hill overpaid veteran.... PLEASE - DON'T - LET - IT - HAPPEN...
Toronto Raptors : (A)
In order to win an evenly matched contest, one has to play well, and ensure your opponent doesn't play at their best. The Raptors achieved both and were deservedly rewarded with the win. Dominating front court play by Valanciunas and Johnson kept them in the game early, the Grizzlies were then completely trampled by inspired guard play from Lowry and Vasquez who made the Grizzlies defenders look down-right pedestrian. With the struggles that the Heat and Pacers are going through right now, these scrappy but deceptively good Raptors are in with a fighting chance to contend in the Leastern Conference.