Things just won't get moving in the right direction for the Memphis Grizzlies. As well as they've played in stretches of their past few games, the Grizz just aren't quite pulling things together like they did in December and January.
Nobody should be surprised, really, it's not like we could expect this young Grizzlies team, still without a true "feature scorer" (though O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay are close), to pull out every close game this season. Tonight the Grizz got enough opportunities to win, but the Bobcats hit their tough shots while O.J. (14 points) and Rudy (20 points) both bricked their 3's.
The Grizzlies spread the love fairly evenly, though there were moments that felt like Stephen Jackson (32 points, 11 rebounds) and O.J. Mayo were engaged in a shootout, throughout the first half. The teams were closed to tied the entire way, with Zach Randolph (24 points, 10 rebounds) anchoring the Grizzlies, until the 4th quarter started the game seemed to be slipping out of hand once O.J. Mayo went cold.
With Raymond Felton on the bench, Mike Conley (13 points) played a couple hot minutes, scoring 11 straight for the Grizzlies, that pulled Memphis and the tiny crowd back into the game. But the Grizz could never get ahead; they pulled close several times, but key shots by Stephen Jackson and Raymondo and a couple monster Tyrus Thomas blocks kept the Grizzlies kept them out of the lead.
In the end it came down to the Bobcats hitting those shots, tough shots, while the Grizzlies missed several decent, but ultimately unspectacular, opportunities.
The fact of the matter is, we can't really be shocked by the fact that the Grizzlies are kind of stuck trading games right at the .500 mark. If you look at the advanced statistics, take Hollinger's playoff odds for example, the Grizzlies offensive and defensive efficiencies suggest that they're going to finish just about dead on .500. If you don't trust the stats, trust the coach, Lionel Hollins has long said that he thinks the Grizzlies are overachieving.
I know that it hurts watching the Grizzlies slide like this, especially after how promising this team looked just a couple months ago, but I think it's quickly becoming more than a creeping suspicion that the Grizzlies really aren't that good yet.
Promise is a good thing, even Mike Conley has been showing it lately, but ultimately reality is always going to win out. It's likely that it'll take something like 48 wins to get into the playoffs in the West this year (in the East is more like 41, which is bullshit). The Grizzlies would have had to double their win total to get in.
24 extra wins is a lot, in fact it's too much to ask for. If we get to 42 wins this season, which is looking more and more like a realistic prognosis, that's still 18 extra wins this year. 18 wins is still damn good, a real achievement, and Grizzlies fans need to keep their heads up to recognize that achievement.