Memphis fell to Phoenix 97-95 in heart-breaking fashion. After dominating early on, Memphis fell into one of it’s usual slumps where they couldn’t make a basket, or stop any from the Suns either. The Grizzlies fell behind quickly at the beginning of the second half and it looked like Phoenix was ready to run away with it. Then the funniest thing happened.
In true Grit N Grind fashion, the Grizzlies started to fight their way back into it. A huge scoring run that spanned the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth quarters put Memphis back on top, although they were never fully able to take charge.
Up 95-94 with around 35 seconds left, the Grizzlies needed to make one or two stops to put the game away. Then, former Grizzly Troy Daniels hit a clutch three to put Phoenix ahead 97-95. After seemingly squandering the game, Memphis got a second chance after stealing an inbound pass with 8 seconds left. Tyreke Evans took it up the court and launched a three for the win, only to see his shot clang off the back iron. Game over.
Despite this tough loss, there were a number of positives/good performances from our boys in Beale Street Blue. Lets see who got a passing grade in the latest edition of our Report Card.
Tyreke Evans: B+
Evans was his usual self tonight, driving into the paint and getting to the free throw line finishing with a team high 23 points, while dishing 5 assists and doing his best to create for his teammates. Evans had a rough night from downtown, going 1-6, including missing the go-ahead shot. Other than that, it was another ho-hum night for Evans as the leading scorer and overall best player on the floor for Memphis. How boring.
Andrew Harrison: B
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Andrew Harrison is starting to impress me. Since the end of November he has turned in a number of solid performances and he continued that trend tonight in the desert. It is good to see that his increase in playing time has resulted in improved play. Harrison has shown improved patience, shot selection and decision making, all of which has led to him becoming a key player in Memphis’ backcourt. He turned in 12 points on 4-6 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds in a display of toughness and pure determination. Harrison should be an important piece of this Grizzlies team moving forward. He has earned that much.
Dillon Brooks: B-
Brooks has had quite the up-and-down rookie season so far. Injuries early on have forced him into the rotation and then the starting lineup faster than most people probably expected. He has had some big moments as well as his fair share of his struggles as he adapts to the pace and play of the NBA. Overall he has shown great value as a second-round pick and is one of my favorite players, having gone from my favorite college team, the University of Oregon, to my beloved Grizzlies. Tonight in Phoenix he showcased his shooting ability, scoring 11 points on 50% shooting, including hitting this three-pointer from near halfcourt territory.
He also had two great blocks in this game, showcasing his improving ability as a defender. The rook has come a long way from his Eugene days and I can confidently say I’m one of many Grizzlies fans who hopes he can continue to ball out in the future.
Marc Gasol: C+
Gasol was one of two Grizzlies to record a double-double in the game, with the other being JaMychal Green. However, while Green had a rather efficient night shooting the ball, Gasol struggled to get his shot to fall. Big Spain shot 31.6% from the field and fared even worse from downtown, hitting one of seven shots. Gasol has really struggled shooting-wise this season. Conley’s absence has forced Marc into a more primary role on offense than he’s had in the past and he has had a difficult time adjusting. Despite this, his 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks show that he still has the talent to be a Swiss Army knife-style of player. It isn’t fair of us to ask for so much of Gasol without Conley, but we must continue to do so.
This was a tough loss, but just like the Grizzlies themselves, we must move onto the next one and hope for the best. We’ll get that chance when Memphis takes on the Clippers on Dec. 23rd.