Coming into yesterday’s game, the Grizzlies were looking to bounce back from Friday’s deflating loss to the Sacramento Kings. After Mike Conley’s quiet debut on Friday, many hoped he would have a better game Sunday. In addition, James Ennis made his return from injury yesterday, and so it finally appears this Grizzlies team’s health is being slowly restored. But, similar to Friday’s match, Memphis struggled offensively. Out the gate, it was a slow start for the Grizzlies, but they came roaring back to tie it up after the first quarter, 18-18.
In the first half, all of Memphis’ starters had a negative plus-minus rating and seemed to struggle on both ends of the floor. However, Memphis’ bench kept the game close, as Zach Randolph and Vince Carter both had strong first half performances. At halftime, the score was 35-34. Rudy Gobert led all with 12 points for Utah at the half.
In the third quarter, Memphis’ offense began to pick up, and so did Mike Conley, at least briefly. By the end of the third quarter, Conley had 11 points and 3 assists. Going into the fourth, Memphis trailed Utah 61-58, and both teams continued to struggle offensively, particularly from beyond the arc. On the night, Memphis shot 8.7% from three, while the Jazz shot 29.6%.
Down the stretch, offense continued to be an issue for Memphis. After Utah knocked down 3 threes, Memphis found themselves in a 7-point hole with two minutes left. After that, the Grizzlies continued to come up empty on offense, and Mike Conley continued to come up short from three. When needed, Utah pulled it together at the end of what was overall a sloppy game, and the Grizzlies fell behind to lose this one at home, 82-73. For the Jazz, Gordon Hayward had 22 points, and Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
A Look At Conley’s Return: A Mixed Bag
The Grizzlies are 0-2 since Mike Conley’s return, and he’s had disappointing performances in both games. Sunday, he had 14 points and 4 assists, but he was 3-16 from the field and 1-9 from three. Mike definitely needs some time to regain his legs and get back into a rhythm. But one has to wonder if Mike Conley is fully better...
...And if he’s not, why did the Grizzlies bring him back early despite having performed well in his absence? That’s not to say Memphis doesn’t need Mike Conley, but there’s no reason to rush him back like this. His health is paramount, and the Grizzlies should be extremely cautious in how they handle his situation. Just look at the last two games....this isn’t the Mike Conley we saw at the beginning of this season. If this trend continues, it’ll be interesting to see how Coach Fizdale handles Mike Conley’s minutes. Should the Grizzlies have brought him back so soon? Time will tell.
"Mike is an All-Star... He'll be all right," -Zach Randolph— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
The Starters’ Disappointing Performances
In many ways, this was a very “yucky” game to watch in terms of offensive performances. For one, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol combined for 7-38 from the field.
All of Memphis’ starters had a negative plus-minus rating on the night, and Troy Daniels only took one field goal attempt in 11 minutes of play.
While on one hand this is concerning, this is also uncharacteristically bad, and it shouldn’t become a pattern. Marc was missing shots he typically doesn’t miss, and Troy Daniels will normally be taking more shots, and therefore be more productive. Tony Allen didn’t have a terrible showing with 9 points and 8 rebounds. By far, Memphis’ best players last night were JaMychal Green, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Zach Randolph, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
"We got a long way to go...We gotta stick together," -Zach Randolph— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
“We In The Mud” In Memphis
Undoubtedly, last night’s game was the type most would label as “in the mud.” All night, both teams struggled offensively. Only in the last three minutes of the game did Utah pick up some offensive momentum. Although Memphis had 93 field goal attempts versus Utah’s 66, Memphis only shot 30.1% from the field.
This was a low-scoring game, and both teams struggled to get going on the offensive end. It wasn’t to say defense didn’t play a part in this, but both teams missed very easy shots, and Memphis shot unusually bad from the field in general. The one area Memphis succeeded on the offensive end was shooting free throws. The Grizzlies shot 83.3% from the line, while the Jazz shot 56%.
Now, Memphis has to regroup before facing the Boston Celtics in FedExForum Tuesday night.
"Obviously making shots would help a lot...Making sure that the right people get going..." -Marc Gasol.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
Marc Gasol on if he liked Memphis' looks from three: "Some of them, yeah." But said "You can't rely on those."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
"Obviously our offense can't be this bad...(Marc and Mike) are out of rhythm with each other" -Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
"...Our execution is horrendous right now" -Coach Fizdale. "Some of it is also a lack of concentration."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
Coach Fizdale on Conley: "He's just got to get minutes...And he's fighting through a lot of pain....And he doesn't take pain medicine."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016
Coach Fizdale on Troy Daniel's lack of shots today (1 fg attempt)- "No, I really can't explain that one. No, I don't know why."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 19, 2016