Zach Randolph sat with flu-like symptoms. James Johnson (ankle) returned after a one-game absence. Dave Joerger (wait for it) coached through a bout of poison ivy... poisoning? Sheesh.
Brooklyn built a 21-2 lead against abhorrent shooting by Memphis to start the game, but the Grizzlies (briefly) saved themselves some box score embarrassment by making it 30-19 by quarter's end. Ed Davis guarding Paul Pierce was a disaster, as PP racked up 10 early points and a couple of triples (but let's not pretend Z-Bo's perimeter D would have been any better). Joerger responded by sending Koufos in to play alongside Gasol into the second quarter, an effective scoring and rebounding combo against a smaller Brooklyn front court. The Grizzlies pulled within 4 at 30-26, but the Nets ran off 7 straight and held Memphis at arm's length, going into halftime with a 54 - 44 lead. Offensive fouls abounded (13) for Memphis in the half, but so did turnovers (10).
The "second half Grizzlies" apparently didn't make the trip -- instead, the Nets pounced on lazy defense and turnovers to make it a 19-point lead almost immediately. Mike Conley continued to have one of his worst games of the season, and was so turnover-prone (he finished with six) that Joerger sent Calathes in at the 1 to allow Mike to play off the ball and, hopefully, get some shots off. It was unsuccessful. What was left of the team's defense completely disintegrated midway through the quarter, as Brooklyn -- Brooklyn! -- started draining threes and clowning on easy layups. The lead ballooned to 30. It got no better from then on out, unless you're a huge Beno Udrih or Jon Leuer fan (guilty), both of whom finally got some minutes. The Grizzlies reserves, led by James Johnson, pulled to within six in the final three minutes, but the Nets put the game on ice with two more turnovers and another three (bringing their total made to 15). The Nets took the win, 103 - 94.
Tony Allen and Kosta Koufos (and Jon Leuer, late) were the only Grizzlies "in the mood" tonight -- they both played great. But at this point, with the playoffs on the line every night, individual performances are little consolation in losses like this. The Grizzlies starters, excepting Marc Gasol (7-14), were a combined 2-17. Lee and Prince (who did not take a shot in 17 minutes), both went -31 in the +/- column.
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