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Full Recap: Third quarter meltdown leads to ugly Grizz loss in Houston

Bad three-point shooting, defensive breakdowns, and strange wing rotations highlight fifteen-point loss in Space City.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies entered Houston in need of a bounce back performance, and, early on in the game, they at least succeeded in bringing the energy. Grizzly defenders did their best to harry Houston shooters, striving to make three-point attempts uncomfortable, at the very least. Against a team that does nearly nothing except shoot beyond the arc and in the restricted area, that sort of effort would be necessary if Memphis wanted any shot at winning.

Marc Gasol was particularly aggressive early on, on both ends of the floor. Big Spain had looked less than impressive in Big D, and appeared dead set on making amends Saturday, swatting two shots in the lane and looking for his shot on the offensive end.

Those efforts, coupled with an officiating crew willing to let things get physical, kept the game close early on. Memphis trailed by just 3 after the first (27-24) and 4 at the half (55-51), all in spite of the fact that the Rockets shot just under 50% from the floor and 43% from beyond the arc. In fact, at the break, the Rockets held the only real statistical advantages in shooting and fast break points (9-0).

Memphis certainly hoped that with continued effort, the Rockets’ shots would start missing their marks.

There was no such luck to be had inside Toyota Center. Instead, the third quarter wound up being the undoing of the Grizzlies. Harden had 13 points in the first five-plus minutes of the quarter, and the Rockets ran their lead up to 15 by the end of the third.

The fourth quarter was brutal to watch, as the Grizzlies looked lost on defense and, at one point, even resorted to hacking Clint Capela. There was no solace to be found in the blowout, either, as Fizdale kept Conley and Gasol out on the floor until the waning minutes. Gasol finished a team worst -17, ruining what had been a strong start.

The Grizzlies also weren’t helped by their abysmal performance from behind the arc. Memphis has improved its outside shooting this season, but they’re still hot and cold from night to night. Saturday night they were cold, shooting 28.6%. Against the Rockets, who shot 43% from three even while Ryan Anderson was just 1-7, nights like last night make it hard to win.

Memphis will have Sunday off before they take on the Brooklyn Nets at home in FedExForum on Monday night.

Other Notes:

  • Chandler Parsons played in a back-to-back for the first time this season, and he looked as bad as expected. Held to a strict 20 minutes, he finished with 2 points on 1-5 shooting, 2 assists, 7 rebounds and was a -9. At this point just expect these performances from Parsons until he proves capable otherwise.
  • The wing rotation at this point has become baffling. James Ennis played just a single garbage time minute, while Troy Daniels played just 11 minutes. Meanwhile, Vince Carter and Tony Allen played well over twenty minutes apiece. Ennis was reliable early in the season, and there’s been little on-court to merit a demotion like this. With the playoffs approaching, the wing rotation will be worth monitoring closely.
  • In a game that wasn’t even as close as the 15-point final margin indicated, Mike Conley played 39 minutes; Marc Gasol played 36. Even considering this was a divisional matchup, there was no reason for Fizdale to keep his two most important players on the floor. The Grizzlies will have an uphill battle going into the playoffs; they don’t need to make things more difficult on themselves by wearing themselves down before they get there.

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