Well, here we are again. The all too familiar feeling of a loss has returned after a short lived one game winning streak. The Grizzlies started off strong Wednesday night jumping out to a promising lead carried through the 2nd quarter; the largest lead amounting to 12 points for Memphis.
And then the Grizzlies fell back to reality. Nine turnovers were committed by the visitors in 2nd quarter, ultimately producing a 9-2 run by the Knicks to end the quarter. After leading by as many as 12 in the quarter, the half ended in a draw, 49-49. Moving to the third quarter, one thing changed, the Knicks found their shooting stroke.
By the halfway point of the 3rd quarter the Knicks ballooned a 17 point lead. You get the picture, its a familiar story: a strong start quickly followed by a steady decline on both ends of the floor.
Here are my grades from Wednesday night:
Individual defense, F-
An F- might not exist, but if it does, the Grizzlies deserve it. Aside from James Ennis III and to a lesser degree, Andrew Harrison, every other player receiving minutes for Memphis played terrible on-ball defense. The Knicks are not an offensive juggernaut but last night’s defense made each Knick look like All-Star.
Certain personnel groups just can’t keep up with the Knicks tonight.— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) December 7, 2017
Possession after possession, players were getting blown by on simple dribble moves, fouling from reaching, or leaving shooters wide open. The one thing that the Grizzlies have been able to claim through this downhill slide is their defensive commitment, that failed against the Knicks.
Marc Gasol is the anchor in the paint, but the perimeter contributes have to hold their own. Let’s hope this lack of on-ball defense doesn’t become a trend, that could be the complete demise of Memphis.
Attention to detail, D+
Another positive this season has been the lack of turnovers for the Grizzlies. The team only averages 13.7 a game, good for eighth in the league. In the second quarter alone, Memphis committed nine quick turnovers, a leading contributor to the quick run the Knicks were able to create. More importantly, the turnovers “caused” by the Knicks were just lazy, unfocused basketball plays.
Multiple times in this game the Grizzlies just weren’t focused on the task at hand, most noticeably on the offensive end. Arrant passes were altogether too frequent, multiple missed give-me’s, and just bad team offense. We have come to expect the bad offense from this team, but when a team loses focus on the simple things, that is a death sentence for a season.
James Ennis III, B
The problem with Ennis, or should I say the problem with his role on this team, is that he doesn’t get enough credit. Ennis has arguably been the most steady player on the floor this season for the Grizzlies, Wednesday night was no exception. His stats don’t jump off the page, he won’t make a lot of noise throughout a game, but he is just a professional basketball player.
He is one of the better shooters on the team, his defense goes unnoticed mostly because his man doesn’t score, and he makes good decisions with the ball. I don’t think Ennis could demand much more of a role, he isn’t a great ball handler or passer, but if he continues to play his role this well he may earn himself another contract in Memphis.
Overall grade, F
This team is searching, grabbing at any identity they can get their hands on. There is no set/clear offensive scheme, no player that can carry this team on either end, and the players don’t seem to be committed to any one thing. Grizzlies basketball is becoming unwatchable and downright frustrating.
A return to Memphis for a three game home stand is up next, and perhaps the warm confines of FedExForum will provide some comfort and stability for this franchise. There is not much us fans can do to support this team more, its up the players and coaches to give us hope for the future.
The Grizzlies take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at home, tip at 7:00pm CT.