The first half was sleepy and discouraging. The Grizzlies never got a firm grip of the game when they had the lead, and the Lakers’ great effort not only kept them in the game, but gave them the lead heading into the half.
The second half was more of the same. The Grizzlies and Lakers traded runs and the lead several times, and the young Lakers just would not go away. The team that was highly incentivized to lose ended up pulling out the win. The Grizzlies effort was lackluster, hard to watch, and deserving of a loss.
The Grizzlies lost a must-win game on a day when the Thunder dropped a game to the Hornets, opening the door for the Grizz to take the 6th seed. But the Lakers wanted the win more and walked out with one, while the Grizzlies are sitting in 7th seed purgatory. Here’s how that happened on a Sunday afternoon.
The Grizzlies were sloppier than ever on Sunday. This was the infamous 12 PM road game in a big city that tends to trip up NBA teams. This was a run-in with the Lakers, though, and the Grizzlies weren’t supposed to have a problem with them.
What Grizzlies would we be talking about if we were expecting an easy win?
The Grizzlies have struggled with sub-.500 teams all year and this was no exception. The Grizzlies had 14 turnovers and 19 fouls, with a considerable amount coming from mental errors. The Lakers had a huge free throw advantage, attempting 13 more shots from the charity stripe than the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies also were shaky with their defensive rebounding. Memphis seemed disinterested in boxing out, and Larry Nance, Jr. bullied the Grizzlies into 6 offensive rebounds and 14 total rebounds. Thomas Robinson was able to add 5 and 10 respectively of his own. They say offensive rebounding is a hustle stat, and the Lakers outclassed the Grizzlies in hustle while taking advantage of Memphis’ switching attempts on defense.
Memphis wasn’t mentally sharp and they paid for it. This seems to be a constant problem with teams the Grizzlies expect to defeat, and the urgency isn’t there against all 30 teams.
The Grizzlies were without 5 players on Sunday, but Marc Gasol’s absence reared its ugly head the most.
In the first half, 32 of the Lakers’ 50 points came from inside the paint. Brandan Wright didn’t provide much help in terms of rim protection, and he was the only one tasked with providing it. The interior defense was weak all-around, too. The Lakers were able to get plenty of offensive rebounds off of their own misses, and the Grizzlies suffered for it. Three Lakers ended up with triple doubles, and the final offensive rebounding margin was 17-5, (51-33 total).
The Grizzlies really missed Marc Gasol’s presence here. His availability is enough to deter penetration and drives, and he’s one of our best defensive rebounders. His offensive production is missed too, sure. The points were made up with role players stepping up, but there’s no replacing the former Defensive Player of the Year on the defensive end.
Here’s hoping that Marc Gasol can get healthy first and foremost for his sake, but also to help anchor the Grizzlies’ defense heading into the playoffs.
The Grizzlies have 7 games left in the 2016-17 campaign. The Thunder also lost on Sunday, so the Grizzlies didn’t lose any ground in the standings. Memphis will look to compensate for this loss with a win against the Spurs on Tuesday. The Grizzlies look to be more and more locked into the 7th seed with each passing day, so if that’s going to be the case, they need to just focus on playing better and getting healthy before the playoffs.