At this point, it’s just getting ugly for the Grizzlies. Sunday, they lost again to the Brooklyn Nets 98-88 in a very strange game all the way through. On the face, it is yet another loss to a sub-.500 future lottery team. The Grizz have had troubles beating these teams for the past two years, and it’s getting exhausting at this point.
So now that’s eight losses in a row for this Grizzlies team who look completely lost out there. There is no driving force to lead this team in a winning direction. The Conley injury definitely was not the best thing for this team, but no one expected it to be this bad. Memphis is in a violent free fall with no one to save them.
These grades may be harsh, but at some point, these guys are going to have to take accountability on themselves and step up to do anything to get a winning culture back in this locker room. It’s on all the players and coaches alike.
Now, to team grades.
Mario Chalmers- D
Chalmers, Brooks, and Gasol were all benched in the 4th quarter after the Nets outscored the Grizzlies by 14 in the third quarter. This was a message “sent” by Coach David Fizdale on seemingly deaf ears. To that point, Chalmers had only 3 points in 19 minutes with a mix of plays not even on the ball. The team doesn’t gel well with Rio bringing the ball up. That is a fact no one can ignore, but for whatever reason, nothing has changed. Granted it is hard when he and (sigh) Andrew Harrison are the only “true” ballhandlers healthy, but something has got to change. See if any other combination of players can have more production.
Dillon Brooks- D
Very similar write up for Brooks. He had only 2 points in 23 minutes with a -15 +/-. Brooks has had much more upside than everyone thought, so he should keep getting developmental minutes. However, if he has games like Sunday’s, then Fiz did the right thing benching (but maybe not the whole quarter).
Chandler Parsons- C
Granted he was injured in the first half of this game, this grade is also for the losing streak as well. Tonight, Parsons again shot very well going 5-8 from the field, 2-3 from three. It will be interesting to see what is going to come from that knee question marks again. This season he has found a shot, but clearly, his leadership is still lacking. Parsons, being a top scorer and starter for this team, needs to take on a role to help the team through these down times. Even as he has not shown anything like this before as a Grizzly, who knows, maybe this losing streak will bring something out of him.
JaMychal Green- C
Playing the most minutes out of anyone, Green is back to his normal minutes per game regimen after recovering from the ankle injury. He only had 11 points and 7 rebounds tonight. The Grizzlies were once again outrebounded by a team they should beat in that category. JaM was the only starter to play in the fourth quarter tonight as Fiz “rode the hot hand” which will be discussed shortly. But, Green still was iffy on his switch defense Sunday, something that we have seen before over the games. He needs to get back to solid defense and being able to stretch the floor out.
Marc Gasol- C-
Now, we get to the part of the night where the national NBA media latched on. As mentioned, Gasol was benched for the fourth quarter in this game. Before then, he had a solid 18 points but only 5 boards on the night. After the game, he then voiced his frustrations openly. See, Grizzlies faithful know that this is Marc being Marc. When something is an issue he does not hold back. There is no malice in his intentions, but he is just the type of player to say what is on his mind.
Only, I feel this one may be different. To this point, we have never seen a great rapport with Coach Fizdale and Marc. I wouldn’t say it is tumultuous, but they are strictly business professionals. It may have boiled over tonight, and Marc let Fizdale know benching him in the fourth is not the best way for this team to win. I want to emphasize though, you should go back and watch the videos of Gasol saying these things to get the full context of these quotes.
David Fizdale- F
Instead of the bench (Tyreke Evans with 18 points), I chose to grade Coach David Fizdale instead. Benching your four of your starters the whole 4th quarter is not a recipe for success no matter what he says. That was shocking to say you were rolling with the hot hand that included two guys that should normally not see the floor. Also, picking a fight with Marc, especially with this going public, is not a fight you’ll win with the Memphis fan base.
Outside of just tonight, this eight-game slide is centered almost solely Fizdale in my eyes. He chose to go deeper into the bench playing players he should not be. The media, plus some comments on this website, have been after Fiz as of late, but I am just now getting on board. The compliance (including the players too) has gone on way too long during this losing streak. Coach Fizdale has got to get it together.
The takeaways from this game are similar to last game. It is concerning that this team, even without Conley, can not beat the Nets at home. No one seemed to care, other than Marc talking about being benched. Memphis has got to figure out what the heck is going on. The next four games are a home and home with the Spurs, then the Cavs on the road, concluding with the Timberwolves at home. Not ideal against three future playoff teams. If the team plays like it did tonight, that’ll be 12 losses in a row. Something has got to give.