That first half, man, that was awesome. Then apparently someone took a piss in all the officials' water bottles during halftime because they decided to come out and shut down any sensible rhythm of basketball that could possible be had.
Memphis started off the game on fire by using the combustion of James Johnson as fuel. JJ made several highlight reels this evening and showed his hustle with 5 rebounds and 3 steals. It's looking like he may be able to stick around for a while and fill a role that's been empty since the trading of Rudy Gay.
As frustrating as the officiating was, there were other elements that led to downfall of the Grizzlies in this game. Dave Joerger continued his trend of not-better-late-than-never-just-do-it-4-minutes-earlier subbing and managed to waste any confidence the Grizzlies had built in the first half. And while there were some questionable foul calls on both ends for the Grizzlies, Memphis never adapted to how the fouls were being called on them on defense.
That's a tough adjustment for athletes to make, but when they don't adjust to the crappy officiating then it gets in their head and leads to additional errors. The Grizzlies shot incredible well in the first half, and by the end of the game all of their shooting numbers had dropped to completely inefficient levels. It looks as though Mike Conley is still suffering some effects from his thigh contusion because his usual-crisp-jump shots are looking awkward and weak.
With everyone off their game from officiating or from poor lineup rotation, Houston managed to pound away at the foul line and catch fire at the end of the game to seal it up. James Harden finished the night at 22/25 from the free throw line, while the Rockets as a whole shot twice as many foul shots as the Grizzlies (40 to 20).
James Harden: 1st player to have 25+ points in game in which he made 2 or fewer baskets since Charles Barkley, 1995— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 27, 2013
Tough L...— Quincy Pondexter (@QuincyPondexter) December 27, 2013
No joke, Qpon ... no joke.
It's a game that every Griz fan will want to forget. This ranks up near the top of my list of "Leave Favorite Games of 2013," but if the Grizzlies can harness the version of themselves that was on the court in the first half then things might start looking better for the Beale St Bears.
It was at least nice to see the baby blues on the Griz again. To whom it may concern: make those appear more often.
The Grizzlies return home to face the Denver Nuggets this Saturday night.
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