On Monday night, the Grizzlies played to their reputation, dropping a home game against what was expected to be a mediocre Charlotte team that was missing one of its best players. On Wednesday, the cream of the Eastern Conference, the red-hot Orlando Magic, rolled into the FedExForum to face a Grizzlies team that would be without one of its best players.
Outside of the first game of the season, Conley has not played up to his high standards so far this year. But his absence in the starting lineup was still readily apparent. The Grizzlies' starting five of Mario Chalmers, Andrew Harrison, James Ennis, Jarell Martin, and Marc Gasol looked impotent on the offensive end early in the game, and the Grizzlies quickly dug themselves into an 11-point hole.
So far, this season has been the opposite of the last in that the Grizzlies' bench is a strength rather than a weakness, and that continued to be the case on Wednesday night. Tyreke Evans' scoring and Chandler Parsons, who was finding open shooters and setting guys up for good shot attempts, kept the Grizzlies in a game that had initially looked as if it could get out of hand quickly. When the first half ended, the game was tied at 54.
Memphis and Orlando would battle it out through the third quarter, see-sawing back and forth with neither team able to build or sustain a substantial lead. The Grizzlies worked their way into the bonus with two minutes left in the quarter, but, just as happened Monday night, could not take advantage by being aggressive. The Magic ended the quarter on a 13-2 run to put the Grizzlies into a 81-75 hole heading into the final frame.
The fourth was every bit as close as the third, with Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol carrying the team on their back. So many times when the offense stagnated, Evans was able to isolate and create space to shoot or drive the basket, or give to Marc Gasol to go to work in the post.
But as the game entered the final minutes, the Grizzlies descended into the Sloppy Basketball Abyss, never to return. A two-on-one fast break with Evans and Ennis ended with a lob to nowhere. Mario Chalmers mucked up multiple possessions, including a fast break with a chance to give the Grizzlies the lead.
Mario Chalmers “I feel like I lost the game for us”— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) November 2, 2017
Orlando kept the Grizzlies alive with unforced errors, but the game effectively ended when Dillon Brooks, who played 37 minutes and chipped in 12 points, couldn't get an open three to go down. The Magic moved to 6-2, handing the Grizzlies their second straight loss.
Evans finished the game as the leading scorer, scoring 32 points on 13 of 20 shooting, including 4 of 6 from three. Marc Gasol added 22 points on 14 shots and 9 rebounds, while Parsons added 6 assists in his 19 minutes.
- Andrew Harrison had what was likely his best night overall this season, attacking the basket off the dribble and playing more effective defense. He punctuated the performance with a pair of amazing assists: a behind-the-back feed to James Ennis in a three-on-two fast break, and a between the legs no-look feed to Chalmers on a break.
- Jarell Martin only played 19 minutes this game, and contributed 0 points on 0-2 shooting. The Grizzlies really need JaMychal Green back, both for offense and for his defensive versatility. It seems clear at this point that Fizdale doesn't trust Martin to play major minutes.
- According to tweets of people at the game, there was a lot of yelling on the sidelines. Fizdale was not happy with Rio for "not taking ownership of a bonehead play." Things got weird.
JaMyke ripped Rio, Tyreke with words to JaMyke then next timeout Fizz ripped Rio. WTF is going on— 3 Shades of Blue (@3Shadesofblue) November 2, 2017
- Marc Gasol, during the postgame press conference, said he sprained his ankle and that he just needs to play through his injury. I'm sure this will be fine and nothing to worry about.
Marc Gasol said in post game that he sprained his ankle again yesterday working out— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) November 2, 2017
Marc Gasol also said that he has to play through his injury— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) November 2, 2017