Questions and negativity surrounded the Grizzlies coming into last night. They were on a three game skid and searching for their identity. Since Monday’s embarrassing loss to the Brooklyn Nets, speculation has been swirling. A home game against the Clippers looked as if it could go one of two ways: either Memphis would get obliterated, or they would get their mojo back. In my mind, there would be no in-between result.
Well, coming out the gate the Grizzlies appeared more aggressive than they had in the past few games. However, the Clippers quickly regained their footing and the lead. While the Grizzlies were dominating in the paint, the Clippers made 3 threes in the quarter and Memphis came up dry in that category. Therefore, Los Angeles held a 26-21 lead at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, the Grizzlies continued to dominate in the paint. However, Austin Rivers came out hot and had 11 points at halftime. Memphis and Los Angeles grappled for the lead earlier in the quarter, but the Clippers took a firm 11 point lead with 4 minutes left in the half. From there, the Clippers held onto the lead and Memphis trailed 54-45 at the half. Los Angeles led the rebounding category going into the third, 28-20.
In the third quarter, the Grizzlies tried to chip away the lead but the Clippers kept punching back and held onto a double digit lead. This game was appearing extremely similar to most games since the All-Star break.
And things only got worse.
Memphis trailed the Clippers 85-65 at the end of the third quarter after a Jamal Crawford. So the Grizzlies found themselves in a 20 point hole going into the fourth.
In the last period, the Clippers had full control, and Memphis couldn’t pull off an inspiring rally. The Grizzlies proceeded to drop their fourth in a row, 114-98.
For the Clippers, Chris Paul ended up with 19 points and 7 assists. Also, Blake Griffin had 14 points, 8 assists, and 12 rebounds. For the Grizzlies, Zach Randolph was the star off the bench with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Marc Gasol had 20 points. Troy Daniels in his 16 minutes of play was 4-5 from deep.
"It takes everyone to be aware of what's going on," Gasol talking about their defense, saying it takes not 2 or 3 guys but all 5 on defense.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 10, 2017
The downhill spiral began toward the end of the second quarter, where the Grizzlies allowed the Clippers to go on a run that resulted in a 9 point halftime deficit for Memphis. However, things really went sour in the third quarter, as they were outscored 31-20.
Unlike the pattern in the last handful of games, the Grizzlies actually got off to a decent start with the changed starting lineup with Brandan Wright, Andrew Harrison, and James Ennis. Chandler Parsons sat out for rest. Finally, Memphis had appeared fully engaged in those first twelve minutes. Then, as the second quarter went on and the Clippers found their rhythm, Memphis began to deteriorate on both ends of the floor.
Things came to a head in the third quarter as Memphis’ defense allowed the Clippers to explode and take control of the game, and Memphis rolled over without much of a fight. The Clippers also dominated the boards, 47-34.
That’s what is most concerning. I’m used to watching the Grizzlies fight back when they get knocked down, but that grit and mindset seems to have disappeared all together.
"We let one play after another dictate our effort for the following 6 or 7 minutes we were out there," Conley talking about 3rd quarter.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 10, 2017
The Backup Point Guard Dilemma
One glaring issue in last night’s game was Memphis’ point guard situation. While Mike Conley didn’t have a great game last night (he had 13 points and was 3-14 from the field), there was an obvious negative effect when he wasn’t on the floor. Toney Douglas, in his 12 minutes of play, had a plus-minus rating of -12 and was 0-2 from the field.
While Douglas has had some positive moments, he isn’t filling the need at the backup point guard position. The Grizzlies are again at the point where they fall apart when Mike Conley isn’t on the floor. In a blowout loss, Mike logged almost 36 minutes. With the playoffs drawing near, his minutes should be somewhat restricted.
But now, with the Grizzlies dropping to seventh place after this loss, they need him more than ever. It’ll be up to Coach Fizdale is he wants to restrict Mike’s minutes and play Douglas more or if he’ll keep playing Conley these kind of minutes.
Tony Allen on getting back to Memphis' true identity: "Just paying attention to detail, trusting one another..."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 10, 2017
The real question is, where does Memphis go from here? Well, they’ll play the 35-29 Atlanta Hawks in the FedExForum Saturday night. This is a chance for Memphis to rise to the challenge, just like last night was potentially.
Last night’s loss was depressing. There’s not way around that. Memphis has lost four in a row now and dropped another spot in playoff seeding. Just a few weeks ago we were discussing how Memphis could grab the fourth seed, but now I just want Memphis to avoid a first-round matchup with San Antonio or Golden State.
It’ll be interesting to see how Memphis comes out Saturday night. If they lose this next one, it’ll create even more confusion and concern. If they pull it out or win in decisive fashion, Memphis can get back on track. The NBA has a short-term memory with there being so many games. After watching the same track run over and over again, I’m getting sick of watching it and analyzing it.
"Fight. I want to see them fight their way out of it," -Coach Fizdale.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 10, 2017
The morale is "down" according to Fizdale. "I think the elephant in the room is going to be the lineup change of course."— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 10, 2017
"Third quarter I thought we let our offense affect our defense," -Coach Fizdale— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) March 10, 2017