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Four All-Stars sit as Nets trump Grizzlies in Memphis

In an outcome that most Grizzlies fans' should have seen coming a mile away, the short-handed Grizzlies fell to the shorter-handed Nets 97-88 at home Saturday night.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I wish I was more surprised by this loss. I wish I could tell you that I expected the Grizzlies to come out and lay a majestic beat down on this team that has been comedically bad all season. I wish I could tell you that I didn't smell this rotten egg the Grizzlies laid tonight before anyone even stepped foot into the FedEx Forum.

Sadly, I cannot. With the Nets stumbling in fresh off a coaching fiasco and a humiliating defeat at the hands of Houston, and with half their roster not even in the building, I knew all too well what the outcome of this game would be, yet that still doesn't wash the taste of pathetic out of my mouth after this debacle of a game.

The Brooklyn Nets laid waste to the Grizzlies 97-88, on the backs of three players. Andray Blatche (21), Joe Johnson (26), and Brook Lopez (20) scored 67 of the teams 97points, and Memphis had no answer for any of them all night.

Things started off ugly enough with Memphis needing a solid three minutes to score it's first bucket of the night. After the first 4 minutes of game play, the two teams were shooting a combined 37% from the floor, and it looked like this was going to be an ugly, grind it out affair.

No one told Joe Johnson this.

The Arkansas native, already with four points in the opening frame, erupted for a quick 11 over the final two minutes of the first quarter. Joe Johnson gets a lot of flack for being horrifically overpaid, for good reason, but tonight he showed flashes of the scoring ability that led the Hawks to make that deal in the first place, and on the strength of his hot hand, Memphis trailed 24-19 after one.

Both teams played out a similar script in the second, as the Grizzlies would fail to break 20 while allowing one Nets' player to singlehandedly beat them. The culprit in this period was noted scoring threat Andray Blatche. The big fella scored eight of his 21 in the quarter, including going 2/2 from beyond the arc. Brooklyn was able to push the lead to 14 before the Grizzlies got five quick points to close the gap to single digits before halftime.

Coming out of the break, it looked like the Grizzlies might finally turn things around and overcome themselves and the Nets. After allowing Brooklyn to score two quick buckets, Memphis scored eight in a row to force a quick Nets' timeout.

The Grizzlies were able to score much more efficiently in the third quarter, but failed to get enough stops to overcame the large deficit they created for themselves, and despite four 3 point makes in the quarter, were only able to trim the lead by one point, trailing 73-65 heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter saw the return of Quincy Pondexter hero ball, something Memphis fans really haven't seen since the playoffs last season. Q opened up the period on a 9-2 run, pulling the Grizzlies back to within one point of the Nets at 75-74. With 9:15 to play in the game, it certainly seemed like the Grizzlies were about to swat the gnat-like Nets and overcome the post-Thanksgiving hangover.

Unfortunately, an all too familiar refrain began to play. The all bench lineup, still in the game thanks in large part to Quincy's heroics, gave up five quick points leading to a Memphis timeout. At this point, we were all expecting Coach Dave Joerger to filter in some starters, if not bring them all back. Instead, he continued to run out all five reserves. You can argue that this was a bad decision, but with as hot as Quincy was, it made sense to keep riding him.

Unfortunately, he wouldn't attempt another shot for another three minutes of game time, and the Grizzlies inability to get stops at all in any shape form or fashion like seriously in any capacity when they needed them allowed the Nets to regain a double-digit advantage. In the end, it was too much for the Grizzlies to overcome, and they never even threatened to get back in the game after that point.

Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
  1. It will be a long, long time before Quincy Pondexter gets another DNP-CD.
  2. Speaking of coaching decisions, Dave Joerger got out coached by Jason Kidd tonight. Stop for a moment and read that sentence out loud. It's true. Kidd was short staffed, but saw what was working (Joe Johnson isolations, Brook Lopez in the low post) and rode those options all game. Joerger on the other hand, continued to run with a full reserve line-up for far too long, played too small when Brooklyn had solid bigs in the game, and failed to execute a proper game plan for the players he had on the floor. At the beginning of the season, Dave Joerger assured us all that we wouldn't be playing vomit basketball, but more often than not, this Grizzlies team has made me sick.
  3. Mike Conley finished with his second double-double of the year with 16-10. He shot better than he had from the floor in the previous games without Marc Gasol, but still missed a couple bunnies, left two free throws short, and didn't hit his only shot from beyond the arc. I love living in a world where Mike Conley finishing with 16 and 10 isn't good enough because he's set the bar too high with his brilliant play.
  4. Jerryd Bayless had another poor shooting night, and despite his six assists, did a pretty poor job facilitating the offense, yet still got three times as many minutes as Nick Calathes. Of course, when Calathes is -14 in his six minutes, its pretty hard to justify giving him any more run than that.
  5. Speaking of playing time, Tony Allen saw only 22 minutes of action tonight. Do people still harp on him needing 25+ minutes for a Grizzlies win, or was that just to get under Lionel's skin?
  6. Huge shout out to the ladies and gentleman holding down section 110 with me tonight. We all had to laugh to keep from crying, and laugh we did, by God. I don't know any of your names, nor will I probably ever see any of you again, but you're all aces in my book, and that's just another reason why I love going to games as opposed to slopping it up at home.
  7. Chris Faulkner is now 2/2 in using the Grind Prophecies to break a player's slump, and if he doesn't write his next one about me and Nasim Pedrad and/or the little redheaded girl, our friendship is officially over.
All in all, it was a terrible performance from Memphis. The Nets may have talented players, but they have been largely lethargic and comedically bad all season, and they had no business coming into the Forum and getting a win. Even without the two All-Star bigs, the Grizzlies have enough fire power to take care of a team like Brooklyn on their home floor.

Southwest Standings

San Antonio 14 3 .823 0 Lost 1
Houston 13 5 .722 1.5 Won 5
Dallas 10 8 .555 4.5 Lost 2
Memphis 8 8 .500 5.5 Lost 1
New Orleans 7 8 .466 6 Won 1

(updated 12.1.2013 at 11:07 AM CST)

But like we've seen far too often this season, the offense stalled and the defense was non-existent (at best) when it mattered most. It's been a different drummer, same old beat story every night for the Grizzlies this season. All the wins have come on the back of heroics (vintage ZBo, Marc near triple-doubles, Conley 20+ scoring games) and all the losses have been a perfect storm of poor preparation, execution, effort, and energy.

While ZBo should return before the Grizzlies tip off their next game, Marc is still weeks away, and they're going to need to circle the wagons and will themselves to be better if they hope to do anything this season other than muddle through a .500 year.