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Report Card: Grizzlies’ Defense Disappears in Indy Defeat

Memphis’ defense dug a hole too deep for the 4th quarter rally to be successful

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After a 5-game road trip, Memphis looked to get back to winning basketball against the Indiana Pacers at home.

Winning basketball will have to wait until their next game on Saturday at least, after the Pacers defeated the Grizzlies 116-113.

The game was not as close as the final score indicates, given the intense rally. Indiana had a 10+ point lead for most of the game, save for the final 5 minutes. Memphis was looking to iron out the kinks in their defense and somehow found more. This was the third game in a row allowing 110+ points and 10+ 3-pointers. Memphis looked like world-beaters going 3-0 against Houston and Golden State to start the season and they’ve quickly come down to earth.

In Memphis’ return home and JaMychal Green’s return the Grizzlies fell flat. Here’s how the whole team grades out in this report card.

JaMychal Green: C

17 mins, 8 PTS (3-4 FG, 1-2 3P), 3 REB, 3 TO, -8 +/-

JaMychal Green is healthy. Which is awesome, for him and this team. It did not mean much in this game, however. It makes sense that Green was out of sync with his teammates in his first game back, but he had some individual troubles too. He was getting gassed early and committing a lot of turnovers for a player who doesn’t handle the ball.

His conditioning will be better after a game or two, but he’ll need to find his fit in this offense. When he gets more playing time, I want to see how he’ll get his shots with Conley distributing. His conditioning will also be important in seeing how Green has improved as a defender this year, including assessing if he can defend as a small-ball 5.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Gasol: A

39 mins, 35 pts (12-24 FG, 3-7 3P, 8-9 FT) 13 reb, 5 ast, 5 blk, 2 TO, 0 +/-

Marc shouldered the load with Memphis in a bad place without Mike Conley. He was eating in the paint early taking advantage of Myles Turner down low. This was one of Marc’s best game recently. He didn’t force any bad shots while still being aggressive which is a hard thing to do, but a lot easier when you make most of your shots.

This was reminiscent of one the first games of the year where Marc looked like an MVP candidate. Marc’s defense has been fantastic all year and especially so in this game notching 5 blocks. 35 points is also a season-high for Big Spain. Marc was fantastic for Memphis and not a reason that this team lost. He did everything he could. It flat-out sucks that Memphis couldn’t win a peak Marc Gasol game, but shouldn’t discourage Marc in the slightest.

Wayne Selden: C+

15 mins, 2 pts (0-1 FG, 2-2 FT) 1 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 2 TO, -4 +/-

Wayne Selden got his first real minutes coming back from his quad injury. He had a pretty inoffensive game in the rotation and played okay defense.

One wonders if Selden would play if this team were fully healthy. He and McLemore took away from James Ennis’ minutes, which I think is a mistake. I understand the minutes allocation now as they work the two young wings into the rotation, Selden will have to play better to earn his minutes over others.

Tyreke Evans: B

33 mins, 18 pts (6-15 FG, 1-5 3P, 5-7 FT), 6 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 2 TO, -1 +/-

Tyreke has been playing so well that this game seems pedestrian for him, even if it had a season-high in assists. He took over playmaking with Mike Conley out, which explains the high assist number. Again though, he comes in clutch for this Memphis team when the offense desperately needs a bucket.

His 20-point streak of 6 consecutive games came to an end on Wednesday, but Evans is still having the best season among bench players. Reke can commit a dumb turnover on occasion as he did tonight, but overall a good game during a great season.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Brooks: C+

24 mins, 11 pts (5-10 FG, 0-3 3P), 5 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 2 TO, -11 +/-

Dillon Brooks was in the exact opposite of rhythm to start this game. He was looking like the old Lakers #24 with the shots he was chucking in the first quarter. He had moments of guarding Victor Oladipo competently, but had a lot more moments where he would leave Oladipo a wide-open cutting lane or commit a silly foul.

Brooks also didn’t play crunch time like he usually does. He didn’t even play in the 4th quarter. D.B. Hooper’s hype has quieted down after the first couple of games, but his defense hasn’t. Unfortunately that great defense doesn’t help much when you need to make a furious offensive run to rally. If his offense and spot-up shooting improve, he won’t be fighting Ben McLemore for 4th quarter minutes.

Team Defense: D-

The first half was a poor display of defense for Memphis. Indiana was allowed to live in the paint with Marc trying to guard Myles Turner outside. There was little rim protection coupled with easy penetration for the Pacers that allowed them to shoot 53% in the half. Indiana faced little resistance inside while getting plenty of rhythm threes outside, leading to a disastrous first half. Memphis allowed the most points in a half all year, 67.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The second half started with encouraging effort, but the defense went back to being listless. It got to the point where it was hurting the offense because Memphis could rarely find any transition opportunities. The defense was suspect on the road-trip and it looks like Memphis brought it back with them against Indiana. Darren Collison was able to get the quietest 30 points ever as well because he could live at the free throw line.

This defense strung together some fortunate stops in the 4th quarter to fuel the comeback, but they shouldn’t have been in the giant deficit to begin with. This defense needs to be better for the series finale against Houston on Saturday for the tiebreaker win.

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