Once again, the Grizzlies matched up against the Houston Rockets. This was the final time the two teams will play this season, and that will be good news for this team. After winning the first two games in the series, Memphis dropped the last two, including Saturday night 105-83. Their loss is their seventh loss in the last nine games. They now drop below the .500 mark.
It was an ugly night for the Grizzlies as they never really had a shot in this one. Houston came out shooting 3’s at a high rate as they almost always do and took an early lead 33-25 after one quarter. Memphis turnovers stopped any chance they had to come back in this game through the second and third quarters. The second half was where it got ugly. Memphis shot 26% from the field and 13% from three in the 2nd half.
The lineup was changed a bit Saturday night as the Grizzlies came out with Mario Chalmers and Chandler Parsons in the starting five. With Conley still ailing, the team looked for anyone to step up and stop the current slide. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The biggest issue with this game was the bench not showing up in its usual capacity. The lack of production from this group stunted any chance the Grizzlies may have had.
Now, to team grades.
Mario Chalmers- C-
It may be a long two weeks if not more without Mike Conley in this starting lineup. Mario Chalmers just has not found his rhythm as a consistent scorer this season. Saturday night he played 29 minutes and went 1-7 from the field (1-4 from three). Rio pitched in with 8 assists but does not have the scoring respect from the defense that is needed in a Fizdale offense at the point guard position. Chalmers will have to continue to adjust to this starting lineup as he is filling in for Conley.
Dillon Brooks- C
Brooks once again was faced with an uphill battle for this game. The Rook had to guard James Harden which is, of course, no easy task. Regrettably, Brooks wasn’t able to produce on the offensive end to counter a bit of Harden’s production. He only had 7 points on 3-9 shooting. Brooks was not able to inject his spark into this game as he has been known to do in front of this Forum crowd. The team can only hope for him to get more accustomed to the league while gelling with this first unit. Growth and development for this rookie will go a long way.
Chandler Parsons- B+
One of the only bright spots in this game was Chandler Parsons showing some life getting back in this Grizzlies starting rotation. Boy, has it been awhile since anyone has been able to say that. Parsons went 7-9 (at one point 6-6!) for a team-high 17 points. He kept this team in the game in their small comeback in the second quarter. Parsons looked like a new player tonight, giving the team an instant jolt of scoring. If he stays in the starting lineup over Ennis, he will have to continue this trend. Shooting and athleticism are Ennis’s best qualities. Can those be replaced by Parsons?
JaMychal Green - B
Another solid game back for JaMychal Green as he slowly gets back into form after an early ankle scare in the season opener. He stretched the floor hitting the two 3’s he took while totaling 15 points and 6 boards overall. Green had stretches on both sides of the court that were very promising looking down the road. His defense compared to Jarell Martin at the 4 is something that the Grizzlies are elated to have back in this lineup. Green will keep building up his minutes getting back into the groove going forward.
Marc Gasol- C+
Gasol had another average night on a team he has seen many times already this season. The last game against the Rockets was quite similar, with Clint Capela being that pesky athletic big that challenges Marc on both ends. Gasol ended his night with 15 points and 9 boards. The tough part about this was his 6-17 shooting. With only three 3’s attempted for Marc, his inside game was tested. He could never establish a rhythm offensively or defensively against Capela (who finished with 17 and 13) all night.
The Bench- D
Maybe it is because they have set the bar so high all season long, but Saturday night this unit did not produce as they have before. Emerging star Tyreke Evans only finished with 7 points, and he led the bench in scoring. In total, the bench scored only 23 points. Coming into tonight, they were averaging 45 points a game. This bench has kept the team in games time and time again.
This is what brings worry to this season thus far. The bench’s success and the team’s success are directly correlative. Saturday night, injuries to Brandan Wright shook the bench’s flow at the core. Deyonta Davis had to come in to take Wright’s minutes. Davis didn’t look horrible, but Wright has been a glue guy for the second unit. This bench is going to have to replicate its success even with some disruption to it.
The overall takeaway from Saturday night is that the team is going to have to find its tempo again. With Conley missing for two weeks plus, Rio is going to have to facilitate the starting five with whomever Fizdale puts in there. The Grizzlies have been missing key cogs in the overall vision, so it is just another storm they will have to weather together.
The main goal is to get things back on track Monday against Portland and hang on until they get to full strength again.