Memphis had little time to celebrate the first win of Dave Joerger era Friday night against Detroit, as they had to board a plane and head down to Dallas for a date with Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. The night did not end well for Memphis, as the Mavs took advantage of free throw opportunities and a lackadaisical effort early on to earn the victory.
First Quarter- A Rough Start
The first quarter had Marc Gasol guarding Dirk Nowitzki, showing impressive versatility and foot work to stay with the more perimeter-based Nowitzki. Offensive rebounding (6 in the quarter) was an issue early on, giving a potentially explosive offensive Dallas team multiple attempts at scoring the ball and resulting in ridiculousness like a Dirk bank-in three pointer. The Mavericks took the lead 16-6 halfway through the quarter despite missing their first seven shots on the back of poor transition defense by the Grizzlies. Rotations were late on pick-and-rolls and on dribble penetration, giving up wide open jump shots and easy dunks in the lane. Despite an obvious effort by Coach Joerger to run more set plays, the offense was stale and energy was lacking.
As substitutions began, Coach Joerger looked for better effort from the bench, at one point having the true complete 2nd unit in the game with Jerryd Bayless, Mike Miller, Quincy Pondexter, Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos. Jose Calderon and Vince Carter hit numerous three point shots, but Ed Davis found Jerryd Bayless for a corner three of his own. Too many turnovers, (6) dominating the boards (15 to 9), and 35% Grizzly shooting compared to 44% for the Mavericks (4-6 from 3) led to a Mavs lead at the end of the quarter. 32-16.
Second Quarter-Finding Their Footing
The second quarter started similarly to the first, with turnovers and poor transition defense on a Dirk Nowitzki three point shot. It did, however, begin with a Nick Calathes sighting, pleasing many Grizzlies fans in the process. Ed Davis struggled in his time guarding Dirk and had 2 fouls early in the quarter. Missed lay-ups by Tony Allen and poor post shooting by Marc and Zach meant missed opportunities to cut into the score, while the Mavericks found more success scoring in the paint. Dallas built the lead up to 20, and there seemed to be a severe lack of energy on both ends of the court.
Jose Calderon, who started the season 1-15 from three, hit his 3rd of 4 attempts on this night. Calderon led the league in three point percentage last season at 46%, and he rediscovered his stroke against the Grizzlies. Z-Bo and Wendigo began to go to work, at this point; rebounding the ball, attacking the rim, and more offensive rhythm and defensive stops resulted in a run. A Jerryd Bayless lay-up made it 48-43 after a 15-0 Grizzlies run. The team took advantage of missed Mavericks shots and began to push in transition. Zach led the way with 10 points and 9 rebounds and the Grizzlies ended the half down only 6, 49-43.
Third Quarter- A Lack of Luck
As the second half began, Zach Randolph had a steal and break away dunk. Let that sink in...an impressive near double double in one half of basketball carried over to the start of the second and got the Grizzlies within 4. But Monta Ellis, an underrated thief of the basketball, pilfered two possessions from the Grizzlies and Memphis turnovers built the Mavericks lead back to 9 points. The energy was better in this quarter; In one great effort play, JB ran down Monta Ellis in transition and scared him into a missed lay-up. Jose Calderon got the rebound, and on the attempted put back Mike Conley LeBron-blocked the lay-up from behind. While turnovers continued to haunt the Grizzlies, at least there appeared to be more of the Grit and Grind we all know and love.
Kosta Koufos continued to have solid appearances in minutes for Marc Gasol; watching him play makes me wish we could see him alongside Marc more often. He in a smart player whose effort and length are like a combination of Ed Davis and Jon Leuer; more minutes for Koufos could satisfy the need for length, athleticism, effort and smart basketball play.
The energy was better, but despite Zach having 15 points and 13 rebounds through 3, the Mavericks took advantage of Grizzly fouls and turnovers (including a particularly bad sequence from Quincy Pondexter) and ended the quarter with a 5 to 0 spurt to lead the Grizzlies 73-63 heading into the 4th Quarter.
Fourth Quarter- Nothing Left in the Tank
The fourth started slowly, with Dirk and Marc trading free throws early. Koufos continued to give excellent effort in the paint, keeping possessions alive and allowing for players like Mike to make plays on second chance buckets. Nick Calathes made an appearance, making a nice running floater, but the struggles on pick-and-roll defense continued and the Grizzlies struggled chipping away at the lead. Marc picked up his 5th foul questionably on Dirk Nowitzki and Coach Joerger had to take Marc out to protect him from fouling out.
Koufos, for all his efforts, struggles from the free throw line and also had a case of the Tony Allen missed lay-ups, resulting in the Mavericks building the lead to 13 points. The Grizzlies got into the penalty early, and the Mavericks were able to make use of a 46-26 (!!!!) shot advantage from the charity stripe. With the Grizzlies down 12 with 5 minutes left, the Memphis Flyer's (and formerly of Grizzly Bear Blues) Kevin Lipe made an excellent observation-
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>One gets the feeling that right now Mike Miller is a lot more important to the Grizzlies’ offense than he probably should be.</p>— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) <a href="https://twitter.com/FlyerGrizBlog/statuses/396831249999724544">November 3, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
More fouls, more free throws for the Mavericks negated a Z-Bound and Dallas kept the lead above double digits. Second chance baskets continued to haunt the Grizzlies, as did penetration in the paint drawing fouls. Marc Gasol began to take control of the game, driving the lane, hitting free throws and working post moves to get the lead under 10 at one point. But fouls were a constant issue through the entire quarter and any ground made up was lost. Three games, three times giving up over 100 points and the Mavericks win 111-99.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME-
For Memphis, I will give co-players of the game to Mike Conley (24 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) Marc Gasol (24 points, 5 rebounds) and Zach Randolph (21 points and 14 rebounds.) The "Grizzly Three" had a good effort and finished in the positives of the +/- category. For Dallas, Shawn Marion had a 21 point, 14 rebound showing and continues a consistently solid NBA career for these Dallas Mavericks.
THREE FOR THE ROAD-
- Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince did not play much (20 and 17 minutes, respectfully.) Precautionary due to the overtime game the night before, concern about lack of offensive capabilities and getting back in the game or both? Time will tell. But there is likely a connection between the higher point totals this evening (the Mavs scored 38 points in the 4th quarter) and the lack of those two players on the floor, especially TA. Defense needs to improve, especially in the paint. And I never thought I would type those words about this Grizzlies team.
- The Grizzlies bench has seen better nights. Every Grizzlies bench player had a negative +/- for the evening except Jon Leuer (who played 2 minutes) and Jerryd Bayless (in an 11 point on eleven shots, 7 rebound effort.) That included Kosta Koufos, who I praised above; he actually had the worst +/- on the night of any Grizzlies player at -16. The stat is imperfect, for sure, but the bench needs to live up to its billing as a strength of this Memphis roster and not make bad situations worse when they enter the game.
- The Grizzlies three point shooting was abysmal; 3-16, a 19% effort. The spacing issues will continue to manifest themselves if the ball isn't protected (17 turnovers) and those shots do not fall. Mike Miller cannot do it alone; JB and Mike Conley are the guys who made threes tonight. But Quincy Pondexter and Tayshaun Prince need to start making a commitment to getting open from beyond the arc and connecting; it will be a long season if they do not.
All things considered, as poorly as the Grizzlies have played at times they are only 1-2. Thankfully there are 79 games to go. There is time to right the ship, but this upcoming three game home stand is important. A 3-0 or 2-1 record fixes things somewhat; anything worse, and it may be time to begin to look for the panic button. It starts Monday against the Celtics at the Grindhouse.