Different city, same opponent, same result.
The Memphis Grizzlies lost their 10th in a row Friday night 95-79 to the San Antonio Spurs. It was a mini-series with the Spurs, but this one was in front of the Memphis faithful. Unfortunately, the team did not show much fight in front of this hometown crowd.
This team is just hard to watch at this point. The Grizzlies stayed within 10-15 points most of the night, but whenever Memphis strung some consistent baskets together, San Antonio responded. The fourth quarter is when the wheels came completely off. The Grizzlies looked defeated physically and emotionally. And it’s hard to blame them.
Granted, it was the Spurs. They are a team who takes advantage of situations like the Grizzlies are in. As Memphis knows by now, they are fundamentally sound and play a slow style of basketball to beat you over the course of the game. That was the story of this game.
Now, to team grades.
Tyreke Evans- C-
A very strange night for Evans as he got the start again Friday night even with Chalmers healthy. But, he had a low impact, off-night only scoring 3 points off 1-7 shooting from the field. Evans just didn’t have it for this game. Wednesday night, we saw him adapt to the lead ball-handling role well. He had the good scoring night we expected, however, Friday was the complete opposite. He did not take one shot in the first half. Evans did not have his normal score first mentality.
It clearly affected the offensive production overall, as the team only put up 79 points. Without his scoring, it will be a long road ahead waiting on Mike Conley.
Ben McLemore- B
This could be a high grade in a non-offensive, losing effort. However, the first half of this game gave me hope with McLemore that I have not had since his injury. He had back to back possessions of actual good defense. On top of that, he shot the ball at a high clip, which the Grizzlies have been waiting to come through. He scored 14 points shooting 5-8 from the field and 2-2 from three. A pleasant stat line on an overall lousy showing from the Grizzlies.
Dillon Brooks- D
Not really sure what Brooks was doing tonight. He does not get much of the blame for losses because he is a rookie, but if you are starting for this team, you have to produce something. He finished the game with a big ole goose egg in the point category. This was one Brooks’ worst nights for the Grizzlies on both sides of the ball.
I will again say that when Brooks is in the starting lineup, his expectations are that of a starter night in and night out. It is a tough spot for him still adjusting to the league, but he is going to have to contribute more going forward.
JaMychal Green- D+
JaMychal had another underwhelming night. Friday night, he again looked completely gassed defending LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge did not have his huge 41-point game of the game prior, but he impacted the game like he has done all year long. Stretched the floor while still playing bully ball in the paint. Green only had 3 rebounds, and the Grizzlies were outrebounded again 43-38.
These things just do not help a winning cause. Bickerstaff is in a dilemma at this position. Wright, who came back for a bit before reinjury, is the only competent answer at the 4. Jarell Martin, after showing a little hope Wednesday, looked lost again tonight missing switches and being pushed around for rebounds. Green is one of the most important players on this roster, and he needs to prove he was worth bringing.
Marc Gasol- C
Friday, Gasol was much better than he was Wednesday night looking at the box score. He finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists. Now, if you ask a body language doctor how he looked, the grade may change. Something is off with him, and it is really starting to show. Maybe it is the relentless heat he is getting from this Fizdale situation, or maybe he is just down during this losing streak.
Either way, it is becoming a concern. As mentioned, Aldridge had his 22 points, but not many came against Gasol. One positive is that he finally took and made his only three of the game. With Evans at the point, it was harder for him to get the ball sitting back on pick and rolls. Finally, he got his chance and nailed it (go figure). Memphis needs more of that as well.
Mario Chalmers, Chandler Parsons, and Brandan Wright all came back Friday for this came. Parsons was the best of this group. Even though he looked timid to go full speed all game, he had gritty minutes and a good shooting night with 12 points on 5-10 shooting. He landed awkwardly in the second quarter for the crowd to hold their breath through, but he stayed in the game. An impressive return for Parsons.
As for the others, the defense just is not good enough to stay on par with NBA competition. So many misses on switches and picks that resulted in easy layups for the Spurs. We do not know the scheme adjustments Bickerstaff has for the guys, but so far they aren’t getting it. It seems (if only from TV) that they are not communicating, which becomes a massive problem. They have got to work through this, especially without the offense on the other end to balance it out.
The takeaway from this game are that this was another hard game for the Grizzlies. 79 points without defensive effort against any NBA team is a losing combination. Slow offense, no rhythm, and questionable effort- it all adds up. No one stepped up and tried to win this game. That is the biggest problem from Friday night.
Tonight is against Lebron and the Cavs, so it is no rest for the weary. 79 points is not going to cut it against the Eastern Conference Champs either. Something has got to give.