The Grizzlies wrapped up their road trip with a win on Friday night, taking out the injury-plagued Mavericks 80-64 to head home with a 3-1 record on their road trip. Considering that it got started with an ugly loss to the Bucks, Memphis has to consider that a huge success. Now, the Grizzlies are 7-5, two games over .500 and feeling a lot better about themselves than they did after this weekend.
Now, some thoughts on the win:
Grizzlies start ugly, get going in second half
After the Grizzlies (especially Mike Conley) shot lights out against the Clippers, it didn't come so easily Friday night. Memphis did a decent job of generating open looks against the Mavs defense, but shots weren't falling. After the first half, Memphis had shot 36.1% from the field. Fortunately, the Mavs were actually worse! Dallas shot 28.6% from the field in the first half, which resulted in the disastrous halftime score of 36-29 (yes, the points scored actually matched the shooting percentages).
Honestly, this game was complete slop for the first two quarters. The Grizzlies finally managed to get into a rhythm in the second half, but this wasn’t a pretty game. On the bright side, at least the Grizzlies were able to build a decent lead so they didn’t end up with a repeat of the Pelicans game on their hands.
Defense is trending in the right direction
Fizdale emphasized defensive effort after the loss to the Bucks. Since then, it seems like the Grizzlies have slowly, steadily improved each game. Tonight was the best effort yet. The defense looked solid throughout the game, as the Grizzlies fought through screens when they needed to and switched when appropriate. I'm not sure if the Grizzlies are communicating better, if they're getting more comfortable with Fizdale's schemes, if they just looked better based on the level of competition, or some combination of the three.
Either way, it was nice to see the Grizzlies play something resembling competent defense, and hopefully they can build on this performance moving forward.
Chandler Parsons still not 100%, aggressive anyway
Chandler Parsons and Mark Cuban may still be on friendly terms (per Tim MacMahon), but it seemed pretty evident that he wanted to have a big game against his former team. In spite of the fact that he still clearly lacks explosion, Parsons was incredibly aggressive from the floor in his 23 minutes. He finished the night 4-7 from the floor (3-5 from three) for 12 points. But none of his shots was more emphatic than this one:
Chandler Parsons makes 3 and says "bruh" to his good bro Mark Cuban https://t.co/ifvbvvoc60— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) November 19, 2016
Parsons and Cuban may still be boys, but that had to feel good for Parsons. He got the last laugh, with that three and the staredown and the Grizzlies getting the win, but the two were seen on camera embracing and exchanging pleasantries afterwards, so there appears to be no bad blood there.
- Tony Allen was finally back from his injury. But, rather than the usual spot in the lineup, Allen came in off the bench. There wasn’t anything immediately reported about why Fizdale elected to use the Grindfather in a reserve role. It’s possible he wanted to limit his minutes (TA finished the night with 18), or maybe Fizdale is still experimenting with lineups. I’m sure we’ll likely find out more about TA’s situation in the near future.
- The Grizzlies were finally able to build a decent lead, so Fizdale was actually able to limit minutes for Marc and Mike without completely shelving them. Marc finished the game with 24 minutes, while Mike played 28. Hopefully with this, Fizdale won’t feel the need to DNP the stars against the Timberwolves tomorrow night.
- Harrison Barnes has had a decent season so far for his new team, but the Grizzlies managed to keep him in check. Barnes started out 1-8 from the field on his way to a 5-17 performance. Barnes still managed 15 points, but the Grizzlies were able to force him into an inefficient night. Barnes also had 4 turnovers and a +/- of -16.
The Grizzlies will play tomorrow night against the Wolves for the millionth time already this season. The game will take place in the friendly confines of FedExForum. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. CST.