Unfortunately, without their star big man, Memphis wasn’t able to recreate last season’s Hateful Eight performance and keep their six-game win streak alive. With Marc Gasol resting, the Grizzlies’ young players fought valiantly before a lack of three point shooting and offensive firepower all around doomed them to a 103-86 loss at the hands of the reigning NBA Champions.
While the final score looks a bit one-sided, it was actually a decent game that Memphis managed to keep competitive until the closing minutes. Here are a few quick observations from tonight’s game.
Grizzlies remained competitive in spite of missing Gasol
The Cavs were without Kyrie Irving, but that absence paled in comparison to what Memphis was missing, especially with Gasol out for rest. In spite of that, the Grizzlies battled to keep the game close. Late in the second quarter, they trailed by 22, but put together a 7-0 run to get within 15 at the half. The third quarter seemed as if the deficit would stay there; any time the Grizzlies managed to get a couple of buckets, Cleveland would score to pull ahead by 15 again.
Memphis managed to make some headway in the fourth, cutting the lead down to 9 a few times. Then, once Davis went out, Cleveland managed to stretch the lead to 20 and put the contest well out of reach, though the 17-point final deficit seems hardly indicative of how the game played out. And while Memphis never managed to get to within five, it was impressive to see the team continue to fight for the majority of the game.
It’s also a testament to the Grizzlies’ defense that they were able to scrap to stay in this game. They continue to force turnovers, holding Cleveland to 23 assists compared to 17 turnovers, a ratio of 1.24 for a team that entered the game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.64 (10th in the league). For a team missing its defensive center-fielder, that’s a solid performance.
Memphis can’t have nice things
Deyonta Davis spent a lot of his time on the court reminding everyone (as he usually does) about why he was considered by some to be a lottery talent. Davis was awesome. He affected shots at the rim, made some great putbacks, and even had this fantastic finish.
Then he reminded everyone in GrizzNation that the Grizzlies aren’t allowed to have nice things. With about four minutes gone in the fourth, Deyonta came up limping. He was taken off the court and helped to the Grizzlies locker room with what appeared to be a foot injury.
Grizzlies rookie big man Deyonta Davis is being helped to the locker room after apparently suffering a foot injury— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) December 14, 2016
Welp, that’s a shame. We won’t speculate on the injury, but we hope that it isn’t serious and that it won’t result in him joining the “Re-Evaluated in Two Weeks” Club, which already counts Chandler Parsons, James Ennis, and Brandan Wright as members.
Some quick thoughts on Memphis’ other young talent
- Andrew Harrison finished the game with 13 points and 4 assists, which was fine, though he continues to struggle shooting overall. I think, right now, my biggest issue with Harrison is his tendency at times to pull up for jumpers early in the shot clock without trying to run the offense to get a better look. As I’ve said before, I’m impressed with Harrison’s development to this point (shoutout Coach Fizdale), but if there’s one thing I’d like him to do now, it’s curtail these sort of shots.
- Troy Williams continues to do some fairly exciting things at times, like throwing down monster dunks and getting hustle rebounds and blocking shots out of the building. The guy plays with a motor that seems TA-esque. He finished the night with 13 points and 6 rebounds, and had a couple of other opportunities for layups that also looked TA-esque. Maybe someone should tell Troy that there are certain of aspects of TA’s game that you don’t want to emulate.
- JaMychal Green has had a great season to this point, but he did not have a good game against Cleveland. He managed to get a bucket late in the game, but he finished with just those two points. I’m not sure if Gasol’s absence might have had something to do with Green’s off night. He may have felt uncomfortable as a starting center next to Zach Randolph. Whatever the reason, JaM wasn’t great tonight, but hopefully he can bounce back tomorrow to make up for this performance.
The Grizzlies will get a shot at avenging this loss tomorrow, as they play the second half of the back-to-back, home-and-home series back in Memphis in front of the home crowd in FedExForum.