It was another strange, lethargic night for the Grizzlies, but instead of what we saw in Portland, there was no comeback win Saturday night. The Rockets pulled off a 111-96 wire to wire win. They jumped on the Grizzlies early and never looked back.
It was a bit alarming given how the starting five looked for the second straight game. Luckily, (and I love being able to say this again) the bench had yet another big game to keep the Grizzlies within fighting distance all night. Unfortunately, Houston just did not miss enough shots (they went 16-45 (!!!!) from three) to keep the door open.
Now, to team grades.
Mike Conley - C
Well, it happened again. A questionably slow start from Conley in the first half. In Portland, he was able to overcome it in the second half. Last night, not so much. He only had 12 points on the night going 4-11 from the field, with only 1 point in the first half. So, when is it time to be concerned? It should not be for a while, as he knows as well as we do that he needs to get out of this funk. He will have a big night soon and all will be forgiven. However, until then, it makes for tough sledding with Conley not being an impact in the offense, especially in the early goings of the game. Saturday night, he just could not find his groove, and it affected the starters around him.
Dillon Brooks- B-
The Rook was faced with another tall task for Saturday night’s game. He was given the start at the two. This, of course, means he would sometimes face up against James Harden. Luckily, the team and Brooks have seen this time so many times this year, so the initial burden would be reduced a bit. Either way, even as Harden did end with 38 points, it was a decent game from Brooks. Like last game, he was thrown in against the best to start his NBA career. Offensively, he had 9 points on 4-8 shooting and 6 rebounds. Overall, an average night, but it is all about gelling to the NBA game for this first-year player.
James Ennis III- C+
For Ennis, it was another meh night. In the first quarter of the game, he just did not feel like he fit in with this starting rotation. He has the high motor and athleticism to have high flying plays. And that’s the thing. With a run and gun offense, he gels and can keep up. Ennis would fit well in a small ball lineup that had defensive help around him. On Saturday, he only had 4 points on 3 shots with 3 boards. Coach Fizdale needs to find the fit to where all of these pieces fit perfectly in this lineup, one being Ennis.
Jarell Martin- C-
Jarell Martin is another weird fit. He is filling in for JaMychal Green to come back full strength, but is he really worth starting at all? He only played 15 minutes Saturday night, and he didn’t have much of an impact when he was out there. Martin had 6 points with 2 rebounds and a -14 +/-. These stats combined with few minutes just does not justify starting him at all. If they instead changed up things and inserted Parsons (and yes, I’m actually saying the Bandit) or Evans in the starting five, it may flow better from the beginning of these games. With Green coming back soon, hopefully, he can be inserted back and be fine, but the question will be his health for the first few weeks back.
Marc Gasol- C+
Another poor grade, even for Marc. He ended the night with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. On top of it all, his +/- on the night was -22. As mentioned before, the starting five with Gasol just didn’t seem in rhythm at all. It was a stagnant offense that the Rockets took advantage of all night. Gasol did have stretches with the second team around him that he looked fluid with those guys. After having two great nights against the Rockets earlier in the season, it was definitely surprising to see this off night from him.
The Bench- B+
Another night, another great grade for the bench as a whole. Tyreke Evans led the bench and the team in scoring with 22 points on a solid 8-12 shooting night as he continues to impress. He also added 5 rebounds and 6 assists proving that he can think about passing the ball too. With Chalmers really sliding as of late, it is very important Evans has been able to slide in and help with ball handling duties.
That brings us to the next point. Lots of people have been critical of Chalmers as of late, and yes, he has been bad. However, he fills a void the Grizzlies have nowhere else to turn. Fiz can have other ball handlers with him, like Reke and McLemore, as his minutes increase, but calling for his head is not the way to go about the criticism.
Chandler freaking Parsons. Personally, I have been one of biggest critics of him for the past year. In my opinion, it was still well deserved, and he hasn’t gotten out of the doghouse yet. However, I will admit he finally looks better in his shot (as broken down in detail here). He ended the night with 10, but he hit his first two 3’s which looked like Peak Parsons.
The overall takeaway from this game is that this was a tough one to win. It was the third time playing this team plus it was in Houston. They would be dying for a win, and they got it. However, internally, it was great to see Ben McLemore (4 pts) and Wayne Selden Jr. (5 pts) get their first few minutes with the Grizzlies coming off injuries. They will expand their workload going forward and should be very exciting to see what they can do for this team.