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Full Recap: Grizz Lose Gasol, Fall 94-86 to Clippers

The Memphis Grizzlies lost All-Star center Marc Gasol to injury, and lost to the Clippers, dropping out of the second seed in the LOL-absurdity of the Western Conference standings. Memphis played admirably despite their missing pieces, but the team's outlook for the playoffs has become the biggest question.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

I was hoping sleeping on it would help.

It didn't.

The Memphis Grizzlies lost 94-86 to the hated Los Angeles Clippers last night, losing the two-seed, and, possibly, Marc Gasol in the process (is there a please-God-no emoji?). This particular matchup included all the stomach-turning plot points and how-am-I-supposed-to-go-to-bed-after-this anxieties you've come to expect from a Grizz/Clips game, only with the added bonus of "How bad is Marc Gasol's ankle?"; "How bad is Mike Conley's foot?"; and, "They're gonna get the Spurs, aren't they?" And these really are the operative questions, in that order. Because I am still reluctant to discuss the happenings of last night's game, let's talk about some possible answers to those three questions.

1. Gasol's ankle. The only thing any of us knows is that Gasol got hurt, almost re-entered the game (sideline reporter Rob Fischer originally reported that Gasol would return), and then didn't. The Grizzlies game broadcast never showed a conclusive replay of the play that injured Gasol (though the result of the play was a pretty gangster Gasol block of Blake Griffin), so really, none of us has anything to go on. We can't say the injury "looked bad," because we didn't see it.

For his part, Gasol didn't seize up and make a face like he was giving birth on the hardwood, as the Gasol brothers are wont to do, and he even stayed on the court for a handful of possessions after the injury, so it's possible the injury wasn't that bad. It was also never really clear who made the decision not to sub Gasol back in: if it was the Grizzlies staff being cautious, that's fine and understandable and actually a little soothing; if it was Gasol, acknowledging his inability to play even while his adrenaline is pumping in a crucial late-season game, that does not bode well for his ankle (even if sitting out was probably the wiser choice, anyway).

2. Conley's foot. This is where things start to get a little murky, and we haven't even talked about playoff seeding yet. Yesterday, the Commercial Appeal reported (there's a paywall behind that link) that Mike Conley's foot injury had the Grizzlies considering "shutting down" (that link is free) their point guard for the final regular season games.

The "shut down" language actually came from the mouth of Conley himself, who said, "I don't want to shut down." Which, to Grizzlies fans, is kind of like if your girlfriend says, "Look, I don't want to break up." And even though she doesn't want to break up, the very fact she said the words "break up" means that breaking up is now on the table. In this analogy, Conley is our girlfriend and his cryptic, "I don't want to shut down" language has caused all of us to imagine a Conley-less playoff world.

3. Playoff seeding. Ha! With two games left, things have not gotten much clearer. The Grizzlies are currently the three-seed, bunched in a three-way tie with the Clippers and Spurs. Matt Moore did the mental 'rithmetic and espouses this as the ideal Grizzlies playoff scenario, which sounds about right:

Those are pretty clearly the big questions Grizzlies fans (and the actual Grizzlies) should be concerned about at this point, as last night's in-game action became largely irrelevant (besides the fact that the game, against their eternal rival, acutely affected the playoff standings) when Gasol became the third very important Grizzly to miss the game. That said, the game did happen, with funky lineups and many, many shouted f-words to boot. Here are some takeaways from the loss:

  • The Grizzlies looked frisky with Gasol out there. The team came out playing very aggressive offensively in the first quarter. The pace was really nice.
  • But they committed some turnovers. And really just never stopped committing turnovers. All told, they had 18 -- which is not good, but man, it felt like it was twice that many. Beno Udrih, Zach Randolph, and Jeff Green all had four, and it felt like Vince Carter had 17.
  • Jordan Adams got some nice run.
  • Kosta Koufos -- our new Greater Memphis hero after dusting up with Blake Griffin -- and Nick Calathes were energetic and effective. I guess Dave Joerger was trying to just go small on the Clippers in the absence of Gasol, but dang: Koufos only played 17 minutes. In a game where the Grizzlies didn't have any other tall men/rim protectors/Griffin foils, Koufos managed 8 points and 7 rebounds in his limited time, which only makes me wish we could've seen more of him. Ditto with Calathes, who would've been better than Courtney Lee or Vince Carter.
And those -- those are the only takeaways I feel like taking on this beautiful, sunny Sunday, as the sun has risen on the Grizzlies as well as the awful Clippers. To speak of Chris Paul's petulance and Blake Griffin's #FakeToughGuy-ness on this sabbath day would cause me to forget the true meaning of last night: the Grizzlies, without Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Tony Allen, still nearly beat the full-strength Los Angeles Clippers.

Prayers to Gasol. Death to the Clippers.