Well, that Memphis Grizzlies game was...something, wasn't it?
It started off well enough. Marc Gasol was playing well despite a knee injury that made him questionable to play in this game, and Courtney Lee made two three-point shots in the first 6:17 seconds of the contest. The offense was scoring efficiently, shooting 9-16 from the field on their way to a 25-20 first quarter lead.
Then, the second quarter happened. Then, the Grizzlies seemed to forget how to play any semblance of transition defense. Or defense without fouling in general...
The Wolves' 21 free throws made and 23 free throws attempted are the most FTM and FTA before halftime by a Grizzlies opponent this season.— Ross Wooden (@RossWooden) January 24, 2016
It would be too easy to simply write off these issues as "poor officiating". Calls were missed, or made, that should/shouldn't have happened, but the fact remains that Memphis was not moving their feet and appeared lifeless on the defensive end. The Timberwolves attempted 13 free throws in the final 5:26 of the quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 24-8 during that span. They ran up and down the floor on the Grizzlies on their way to a 37-21 quarter (in which they led by as many as 16), and a 57-46 halftime lead.
The unique trend of effective Grizzlies offense and poor Grizzlies defense carried on through the third quarter, where Memphis outscored Minnesota in the quarter and scored 28 points. Now this on most nights the past five seasons is more than enough for the Grizzlies to get back in a game, or build a lead, but when you allow 27 points to your opponent that becomes more difficult to do. Minnesota did not attempt as many free throws in the third (they didn't attempt any, as a matter of fact) but they executed in the half-court offensively, building off of the confidence of their second quarter explosion with four made threes in the last three minutes of the quarter. Minnesota led 84-74 heading into the fourth quarter.
Memphis did not lie down, as they have in past games this season, and considering they had only 10 players available due to injury, that speaks to the character of the team. The game got into "the mud", with both teams cooling off shooting the ball and turning the ball over. Minnesota only scored 13 points over the first nine minutes of the quarter, allowing for Grizzlies' bench players like Mario Chalmers (eight points in the 3rd) and Vince Carter (two huge made threes within almost a minute of each other) to get Memphis back within one possession of the lead.
The Grizzlies tied the game at 99-99 on a Matt Barnes made three with 2:00 minutes left in the game. Memphis and Minnesota exchanged buckets back and forth and the Grizzlies had an opportunity to take the lead with 35 seconds left, but a 5 second turnover on Jeff Green, a Mike Conley foul of Ricky Rubio, and a subsequent Conley miss doomed Memphis.
The Grizzlies, with a record of 25-20 after the loss, will now return home to the FedExForum for their next contest against the Orlando Magic on Monday night.