Houston is one of the top five or six teams in the NBA. Houston is damn talented and led by an MVP candidate in James Harden. They are well coached and execute their schemes well. When Memphis plays well, they are in for a difficult game more often than not against the Rockets.
Which makes this performance all the more disappointing.
One of their best players, Ryan Anderson, was out of the lineup. The Rockets were playing their fourth game in five nights. It had all the makings of an opportunity for Memphis to take the season series over a very, very good team.
And they let it slip away. With lackadaisical defensive efforts, missing rotations early and allowing WIDE. OPEN. SHOTS. With a stagnant offense that became too reliant on Marc Gasol, and to Houston’s credit they knew it. Hard double teams hit the post early and often, and the Rockets dared the Grizzlies to beat them from beyond the arc. And they just couldn’t. 37.1% shooting from the field. 26.5% from three.
That won’t cut it against the worst teams in the NBA on most nights, much less Houston.
Some quick thoughts on some stats from this depressing display-
- Mike Conley (6-17) and Zach Randolph (4-11) were not the best versions of themselves on this night. With Chandler Parsons still working in to shape (more on that in a moment) they need to be better than that offensively for Memphis to have a shot at winning games.
- Chandler Parsons had arguably his best game as a Grizzly. In 22 minutes he had 12 points, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds. Even more than the numbers, though, he looked more spry than he has in previous showings, especially on defense. His improving performance was a silver lining in a miserably dark cloud.
- Tony Allen’s offensive woes were on full display tonight. 0-6 from the field, and if he cannot be better than that on his attempts than the Grizzlies do not have a chance against teams who attack Marc Gasol. A wide-open TA and the “trick or treat” nature of what usually comes next is not as endearing as it once was.
The Grizzlies are off until Wednesday night, when another contender comes to town- the Toronto Raptors. With the days off ahead, and a long road trip on the horizon, one must wonder what is next for Memphis. This team is 9-12 since their six-game win streak, and those good times seem so long ago now as a malaise of below average, inconsistent play has taken over this team. There are potential explanations for this- the easing in of Chandler Parsons affecting rotations, lack of a back-up point guard, etc. But it always starts at the top. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph...that unit has not done enough consistently as a group to lead this team. So maybe a change is needed.
Marc Gasol (32 points) is not the problem. Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons are a part of the Grizzlies long-term vision for the franchise. But outside of those players? Anything can potentially happen. Memphis is usually good for a trade this time of year. With about four days between now and the next time the Grizzlies take the floor, will General Manager Chris Wallace be working the phones this weekend?
No reason to say that as fact. It is just one game, and players like James Ennis and JaMychal Green have shown their worth at various times throughout the season. It is perfectly rational to say “tough loss, move on”.
But this game is part of a distrubing trend of poor play as of late for Memphis, so perhaps a move may wake up the roster and bring to attention the urgency of the moment for these Grizzlies.