Lazy Bears: Grizzlies stumble through Portland and give Blazers a comfy win

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

Griz fans hoped for a strong turnaround from a disappointing loss at Golden State of Friday but things never came together in an ugly game against the Trail Blazers.

Grizzlies 98 - Trail Blazers 105

Don't let the final score fool you; this wasn't much of a competition in Portland on Sunday night.

The Grizzlies led the Blazers early in the game and looked poised to ride Zach Randolph to the usual result that this meeting has produced this season, but Memphis began sputtering late in the first quarter and never could gain enough traction on either side of the ball to give themselves a fair shot in this one, especially on the defensive end where the Griz surrendered an uncharacteristic 57 points in the first half.

My eye test for this game tells me that the Grizzlies were focused on conserving energy with hopes of having a considerable reserve of firepower for a tough trip to Denver tomorrow. Dave Joerger was probably forced, by his own game planning albeit, into sharing minutes between an unusual cast of characters who didn't have any sort of momentum to ride when scattered out onto the court.

I'll give our bears this though, they never gave up and even started to make the game a lukewarmish temperature late in the fourth quarter. They just didn't have enough players in rhythm to climb out of the double-digit-hole and they couldn't get nearly enough defensive stops to give themselves a chance to make a real run. Portland rode a determined LaMarcus Aldridge and shot well enough to seal the victory without losing too much sweat.

The Memphis Grizzlies, however, will probably be losing plenty of sweat and/or sleep tonight as they head into the mile-highness of Denver in 9th place, out of the playoffs in the Western Conference for the time being. This puts us Griz fans in the uncomfortable position of needing some help from other teams to get ourselves back in a spot to secure a playoff seed.

Grindmaster of the game: Zach Randolph with a nice 21 pts on 10/17 shooting. Would have been nice, to get more rebound production from ZBo tonight though.

Reason for concern: The Grizzlies continue their streak of poor-free-throw shooting, going 11/18 for 61.1% tonight. Those seven points would have been huge in fueling a legitimate comeback attempt for the Grizzlies.

We head to Denver tomorrow in what is yet another crucial game the Grizzlies can't afford to lose. I wouldn't start to back your bags for that road trip in late April just yet, but the Grizzlies need to summon their inner road warrior to get themselves back into playoff contention; they have 5 away games remaining compared to 4 at home.

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