The game against the Blazers seemed like a microcosm of the Grizzlies’ season. When they were clicking, Memphis seemed unstoppable. They hit threes, defended and rebounded well, and spread the ball around. The bench was excellent. But they also struggled and the absence of floor general Mike Conley was apparent. As a team they shot a paltry 26.7% from downtown and were out-rebounded by Portland a staggering 71-41. Despite a strong second half and some big individual performances, Memphis’ comeback bid against the Blazers fell short. In this game, there was good, bad and ugly.
Let’s get to it.
Tyreke Evans: A
Once again, Evans was magnificent. He orchestrated fast-break opportunities, repeatedly drove the ball into the paint, and played solid defense. Reke continues to be a leader on this team, and without Conley, that leadership is needed more than ever before. For those of you who are crying out for Evans to join the starting lineup, you can stop. Our bench is elite because of Evans. Memphis turns to him when they need a spark. Evans repeatedly burned Portland’s second-stringers and starters. He gets plenty of time with the starters but does his best work as the focal point, and tonight he did that once again.
Mario Chalmers: B+
With Conley out, Chalmers is our starting point guard and he turned in a solid performance, leading the Grizz with 21 points on 7-12 shooting. Like Evans, Chalmers was a consistent source of offense, driving into the lane and getting to the free throw line, where he converted a team high 6 of 7 attempts. At times he seemed like he was 10 years younger, but at others he looked like a 30-year-old point guard. He played the second-most minutes of any Grizzly, and at times he looked absolutely gassed. It’s tough to ask Chalmers to play so many minutes coming off his Achilles injury, but until Conley returns, we have to ask him to do it anyways.
Marc Gasol: B
Big Spain recorded his eighth double-double of the season tonight, as he battled his way to 19 points and 12 rebounds to go along with a team high 7 assists. Gasol also logged the most minutes of any Grizzly; he was just 21 seconds shy of playing 40 minutes and Memphis needed every one of them. Memphis’ bigs were overwhelmed when Marc was on the bench and the Grizzlies’ offense continues to run through Gasol sans Conley. It wasn’t Gasol’s most efficient night by any means, as he shot only 35% from the field, but he turned in the kind of performance that Memphis needs him to. Hopefully his play will help translate into wins soon enough.
Chandler Parsons: C
Chandler didn’t have as big of an impact on this game as I’d hoped and truthfully this piece is more about optimism moving forward than this game. I have been a big supporter of Parsons ever since he signed last summer, and have watched him slowly but surely improve. This game contained further encouraging evidence. His contributions weren’t evident on the stat sheet, but they were there. His shot looks better, he’s more active on both ends of the floor, and his efficiency is getting better and better. As his play continues to improve and his confidence grows, hopefully his minute-restriction becomes more relaxed and his contributions become more quantifiable.
While the Grizzlies had some encouraging performances, their losing skid is now at 5 straight games. Memphis is now at a critical point and are desperate to end this run of losses. Coming up next they host the Dallas Mavericks, looking to get back into the win column.