The past few weeks, you’ve come to this website and read recaps about Memphis Grizzlies losses. Memphis has now lost 11 games in a row and is now 7-15. Instead of a playoff streak continuing, it looks like the return of NBA Lottery parties may be in Memphis’ future if things don’t turn around drastically sometime soon.
But even though Memphis lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-111, this latest setback felt a bit different. Maybe it was because they were in Cleveland against LeBron James (who scored 15 of his 34 points in the 4th quarter because he is the best player in the world and closed it out for the Cavaliers), or the fact that the Grizzlies were short-handed (no Mike Conley, no Chandler Parsons, and no Brandan Wright).
Maybe it was the fact that even though they were down 19 points at one point in the 2nd half, they fought their way back into the game, cutting the lead to 3 points at one point. Instead of having the look of a team playing out the slate already, being lifeless and without care, they executed better on offense and did not lay down. They fought. They appeared not to have given up on themselves yet.
Even in a loss, and in professional basketball where wins matter more than “moral victories”, given the current state of things in Memphis this is a loss that is at least a little bit easier to stomach. Here’s to hoping the Grizzlies take to heart that perhaps not all is lost after all...not yet at least.
Some takeaways from this game-
- It is not a coincidence that both Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol had very good games and the Grizzlies were competitive at times in the contest. Gasol and Evans combined for 58 points on 22-43 shooting overall in 80 combined minutes and were just monsters offensively, playing as well together as they have at any point this season. Tyreke (31 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds) facilitated extremely well and Marc (27 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks) had another complete performance, but added elite scoring to the mix despite being questionable coming in to the game due to injury.
Then, with Marc, there is this. Congrats Big Spain.
The other seven players who meet this criteria are (alphabetically) Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Smith (2/2).— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) December 3, 2017
You cannot ask more from your two current best players. Well done, gentlemen. Also, honorable mention to JaMychal Green, whose 16 point, 7 rebound showing also was helpful to Memphis.
- The Grizzlies’ rotations were shorter out of necessity due to health, as was alluded to earlier, but the role players responded, especially during the run in the 4th quarter that made this thing a game again. James Ennis III was his usual, solid self, and Jarell Martin (7 points, 4 rebounds) and Andrew Harrison (12 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds) played their best basketball of the season. It wasn’t quite enough, obviously, but the fact that they rose to the challenge when called upon is promising.
Hopefully this is a performance for those two young players in particular that can be built upon.
- It’s been rare for Memphis to outperform any team in shooting from beyond the arc recently, but in terms of percentages the Grizzlies did just that to the Cavs in this game. Memphis shot 13-23 from three, while Cleveland was 11-24. The Cavs were dominant offensively and shot an extremely efficient 56% from the field, so defensively there is still work to be done. But growth was shown in this area, as well as in turnovers (11), meaning the Grizzlies protected the ball better as well as shot it better.
The Grizzlies pushed arguably the hottest team in the NBA to the brink and forced the best player in the NBA to carry them to victory in a game where Memphis’ bench consisted of Mario Chalmers, Jarell Martin, James Ennis III, and Andrew Harrison. It doesn’t stop the streak...but perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Memphis will hope to end their losing ways on Monday night, the next time they are in action, as they welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves to FedExForum.