It wasn't that long ago that the Grizzlies couldn't be beat in the FedEx Forum, winning 11 straight at home. But fans haven't seen much out of them lately, the Grizzlies have now lost 8 straight games in Memphis.
Nobody knows what's wrong, though Coach Lionel Hollins might have an answer:
"We have played a different caliber of teams away than we have at home," Hollins said. "We just haven't been able to raise our caliber of play. We execute better on the road. We make a better effort and better decisions on the road. At home, we haven't been able to do that. We get a little frantic and the ball doesn't move."
Another answer also might be playing against the New Jersey Nets tomorrow, but if the Grizzlies play the way they did in the stretch last night they might not be able to close out the league's worst either.
The Grizzlies shot just 43% with lead scorers Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay struggling, putting up just a combined 28 points and 13 rebounds. Considering that's normally the kind of line that Z-Bo alone can post, it's easy to see why the Grizz struggled. Fortunately O.J. Mayo did his best to keep us in it; he scored 23 points in the loss.
But the real problem was the bench. Hamed Haddadi continued to play well, though his stat line was nothing special. Marcus Williams (-13), Darrell Arthur (-9), and Sam Young (-11) allowed the Spurs bench -- admittedly made up of mostly starting caliber players like Richard Jefferson, Manu Ginobilli, and DeJuan Blair -- to just obliterate them.
Tough loss, but if I can make a few pointers:
- O.J. Mayo is so future Ben Gordon (offensively) that it's not even funny at this point. You wouldn't even be able to tell the two apart if OJAM didn't have his peculiar finger-roll layup. The problem with being Ben Gordon is that you can single-handedly shoot your team into a game, but your teammates need to be ready to rebound and play defense without getting many touches. The other problem is that if you're not on, there's a going to be some serious issues (see: the Grizzlies games since the break).
- Marcus Williams has really struggled out there lately. He picks up his dribble way too early, he doesn't know when to shoot, he telegraphs too many passes. Ronnie Brewer can't come back fast enough, because I think the Grizzlies have to figure out what O.J. can do at PG with Marcus's minutes.
- Marc Gasol and Hamed Haddadi is such a solid center rotation for the future. Can someone please explain what we're supposed to do with Thabeet again?
- Zach has started shooting 3's again, and I'm extremely worried. He's not an efficient 3 point shooter, especially because it takes him out of the offensive rebounding box. Whatever sets Hollins has been drawing up to iso Z-Bo on the perimeter, he needs to erase them, now.
- DeJuan Blair has the potential to be the ultimate Chuck Hayes. His hands are fast and excellent. The smarter he becomes, the better he'll be. Blair could be the best big-man-ball-thief of all time if his knees survive 10 years.