Memphis was without star PG Mike Conley, but the Grizz have always maintained their competitiveness from game-to-game despite injury. Memphis even started off the season with the best record in the league without two starters in JaMychal Green and Wayne Selden Jr./Ben McLemore. Memphis hasn’t used them as excuses going into games, and continued to play hard and win. Sometimes, the injuries are too much, or affect someone too good and the team won’t be able to overcome them. This happened in Wednesday night’s loss to the now-NBA best Orlando Magic.
Here is the Grizzlies’ report card from the game.
Tyreke Evans: A+
32 PTS (13/20 FG, 4/6 3PT), 4 AST, 3 REB, 5 TO, +9 +/-
Tyreke came off the bench firing in this game. He scored 11 points in the 1st quarter and provided the first signs of life for the Grizz offense. This game was an excellent shooting outing from Evans, while he also showed some defensive chops. Tyreke was great all game. Even with Marc Gasol on the court, Evans was the engine for the Memphis offense all night. He could do it all. He was able to drive into the lane effectively and camp out there. Of his 20 shot attempts, only 1 was a mid-range jumper.
An incredibly efficient night for Tyreke Evans that can hopefully jump start a 6th Man of the Year campaign. He absolutely deserves the praise for his performance, despite the loss. You’d go down a long list of names before you can blame Tyreke for this loss.
Marc Gasol: B
22 PTS (10-14 FG, 2-4 3PT), 9 REB, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -9 +/-
The game started out with seemingly the world on Marc’s shoulders. The offense had no movement, life, or success until Tyreke Evans came in. Marc had to score on post-ups and isolations to keep us alive in the first quarter when it could have been ugly. Even if it was 20-9 when Tyreke came in, Gasol got 6 of those points in such difficult situations. Marc Gasol continued a good season in this game while reversing his shooting slump. The Magic did a good job of getting the ball out of his hands in crunch time and he could have been more aggressive in asserting himself in those moments, but still another good game for Big Spain.
James Ennis III: C+
14 PTS (4-9 FG, 1-4 3PT), 3 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, +3 +/-
A testament to James Ennis’ play is that how great Tyreke Evans has been this season has not knocked Ennis’ playing time at all. He notched 35 minutes in this game even though two bench players at his position each logged 36+ minutes. Ennis can stay on the court no matter the situation because of his consistency and defensive versatility. Evan Fournier seemed to have his way against this team, but Ennis did a good job of cutting that off early when he was the primary defender. James Ennis also hit a big 3-pointer and snagged a couple of loose balls with his hustle. Not a stand-out game even for Ennis’ standards, but he played well to his role.
Andrew Harrison: C
9 PTS (4-8 FG, 0-3 3PT), 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, -18 +/-
With Conley out and Rio in early foul trouble, we saw very limited PG Andy. He did a good job of attacking DJ Augustin and barrelling towards the rim with his physicality. Harrison even showed some touch with multiple eurosteps. He also had a beautiful between the legs pass to Mario Chalmers on a fast break and behind the back to Tyreke in the same situations. This was one of his better games on the year with the increased workload. The numbers didn’t really show it, but Harrison made a lot of smart decisions when he was in the game and avoided mental lapses that happened in the past. Here’s hoping he continues it when Mike comes back.
Overall Team: C+
99 PTS, 47.6% FG, 33.3% 3PA, -7 REB Margin, +11 TO Margin
Missing Mike Conley is big, but this seemed like a Memphis loss from a year ago. Only a select few had big contributions and Memphis put themselves in terrible situations early in the game that cost them in the tight final seconds.
Players not graded above shot 8-31 (25.8%), including two potential go-ahead three-pointers that were missed by Mario Chalmers and Dillon Brooks. Both were good looks, but just didn’t fall.
That sums up this game for the Grizzlies. They were getting decent looks from 3-point land and playing decent defense all-around, but could not convert on opportunities given to them by the Magic. In the final 40 seconds, the Magic turned the ball over 3 times and gave the Grizzlies a great look at the rim with Chalmers and two open 3-point attempts. Memphis didn’t have to gratuitously foul, it was handed to them and they couldn’t convert.
The team played hard on defense and had the same amount of energy as they did in prior games, but some nights shots won’t go in when you need them the most and that’s what happened last night.