Let’s be honest: losing isn’t fun. Let’s be honest again: this loss shouldn’t get you all worked up.
True, I may have daydreamed about pouring battery acid into my eyes to escape this atrocious game, but we only lost by 9 points. Furthermore, we didn’t lose a division or even a conference match-up. While it’s another tally in the loss column, there are no tie-breaking implications to bite us in the rear down the road.
I always hope for a win, but didn’t expect the Grizzlies to pull out this one. They were coming off a 6 game win-streak, and missed the services of James Ennis, Chandler Parsons, Zach Randolph, and Brandan Wright. A non-divisional game against the Heat, on the first night of a BTB, isn’t the time to exhaust Mike and Marc to squeak out a win.
Let’s be thankful that the Grizzlies aren’t trading relatively unimportant wins for banged-up and exhausted players in the playoffs. Now onto the grades:
Mike Conley: 22 min, 16 p, 3 a, 4 r, 3 to, 1 s, +3
Conley came off the bench in this first night of a back-to-back as Fizdale continues to mitigate strenuous parts of the season with minute limitations. While MC logged a sub par shooting night (5/15 FG, 1/4 from deep), he still led the team in scoring, snagged 4 rebounds, and managed to break even on assists to turnovers.
The big takeaway: Conley wasn’t run into the ground, and put up efficient numbers all things considered.
Andrew Harrison: 34 min, 4 p, 7 a, 5 r, 2b, 2 to, -13
If you ignore scoring, Harrison had a pretty nice night for a rookie. Fizdale granted him an incredible opportunity as the starting PG, and he posted a +5 on his assist-to-turnover ratio while pulling down more rebounds than Marc, TA, and Deyonta Davis.
If you pay attention to scoring (I do), Harrison mustered 4 points in 34 minutes of play, and failed to contain the Heat’s Tyler Johnson (who went off for 22 points and put Harrison on a poster). We know Harrison is an impressive defender for his size, and I think Fizdale’s faith will pay off later this season when Andrew finds a nice scoring rhythm.
JaMychal Green: 31 min, 14 p, 6 r, -9
JaMychal scored in double-digits despite not taking any threes (please take threes JaMychal), but otherwise had a pretty meh night. I’d like to see him surpass 6 rebounds, but that’s a difficult task next to Hassan Whiteside.
Marc Gasol: 26 min, 9 p, 1 r, 2 a, 5 b, -12
Marc swatted five shots, leading the Grizzlies to a season-high 14 blocks team-wide! Aside from that, there’s nothing else to brag about. Gasol’s touch was off in this one, as he was neither able to convert on his dream-shakery in the post nor his Catalonian catapults from deep.
Vince Carter: 15 min, 7 p, 5 r, -4
Vince got into early foul trouble, and failed to put his fingerprints on this game as he has for so many to start this season. The good news? His legs are still attached to his body! That’s a crucial factor that we’ll keep an eye on as the Grizzlies march towards the post-season.
Tony Allen: 23 min, 4 p, 3 r, 1a, 2 b, 3 to, -19
Tony had a nasty night, bringing the Grizzlies offense to its knees early as he’d brick uncontested, non-defended looks from deep to start the match. It’s not like Tony was taking bad shots in theory—he was more wide open than a Kansas horizon—but the Heat refused to acknowledge him on the perimeter and ate up everyone else’s space on offense.
Silver lining? Tony only played 23 minutes and didn’t appear to aggravate his mild groin injury. Let’s keep our specialist healthy for when it really counts.
Jarell Martin: 17 min, 6 p, 12 r, 1b, +6
Jarell had a nice night! His points contribution was small, but he led the team and set a career-high in rebounds at 12, making the most of his limited minutes. I was worried Martin would go the way of Adams as another perennially injured draft bust, but he’s had a nice comeback and has proven his versatility under Fizdale’s new system. Look for things to get even better for him if he can find the minutes.
Deyonta Davis: 14 min, 4 p, 5 r, 2 b, 0
I guess Davis had an adequate night given his minutes, but we didn’t draft him with adequacy in mind. Deyonta is an athletic monster who can swat and throw-down above the rim, and I wish I’d seen him rise to the occasion and fluster Whiteside. 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in 14 minutes isn’t awful, but I know he can do more.
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but start Davis for Gasol tonight maybe? I’d like to see Deyonta develop with more playing time, and make sure our franchise center gets adequate rest during back-to-backs.
Troy Williams: 20 min, 9 p, 6 r, 1 a, 1 s, 1 b, +6
This loss sucked. It was not fun to watch. In fact, I’d welcome Will Smith erasing its memory from my brain with his MIB neuralyzer pen. However, I’d request that he leave the Troy Williams moments.
Troy set a career-high in rebounds at 6, scored 9 points, and tallied marks in several other stat categories despite his limited minutes. He injected a jolt of energy in an otherwise corpse-like offense, even when the game was way out of reach. I think the Grizzlies cutting the lead to 9 and making the point differential respectable had a lot to do with Williams’ tenacity when he checked into the game.
I hope to see more and more of Troy Williams wherever we can get it.
Wade Baldwin: 13 min, 5 p, 1 r, + 5
The Grizzlies recalled Wade from the development realm, and he had an alright night in few minutes of playing time. He still appears to lack confidence, undermining his athletic abilities to get to the rim, but played better than he had been after a visit to the Iowa Energy. Time, and patience.
Troy Daniels: 18 min, 3 p, 3 r, -8
Troy Daniels didn’t find his shooting touch in this one. To be fair, essentially nobody found their touch in this game, and Daniels play probably rises and falls along with that of his team. Troy tried to grab some rebounds this time, so that was nice. I have faith for the sharpshooter, but we may have to wait some while before he contributes to the team in a significant way.
Head Coach David Fizdale
Coach Fizdale failed to pull out a W while resting and limiting players. While it was an embarrassing game from an offensive perspective, Fizdale hasn’t lost sight of the bigger picture: staying the course on implementing new schemes on offense and defense, executing healthful roster rotations, and developing new talent.
If we have to take a loss, I’d rather it be against a non-divisional team like the Heat. Let’s save the games where we play our starters heavy minutes when it’s against a divisional opponent or a conference foe whom we’re battling for seeding position.
While the Grizzlies lost the game, players received emotional and physical breaks instead of playing and potentially exacerbating minor injuries into serious ones. Resting and limiting players’ minutes also allowed Fizdale to expand playing time for younger players on the bench—and those are the minutes that translate into bench depth by the end of the season.