The Grizzlies took a tough loss against a bad Los Angeles Lakers team Sunday afternoon. The game was close the entire time - the largest lead for either team was seven points which the Lakers grabbed late in the fourth quarter. In a game that included 19 ties and 12 lead changes, the Grizzlies struggled to find any sort of groove.
Memphis uncharacteristically lost the rebound battle by an overwhelming 18 boards. The Grizzlies attempted 30 three pointers, shooting 43% from deep on the game; Mike Conley used his three point shot to keep the game close in the fourth. The Grizzlies have made 10 or more threes in the last three games, shooting 40% from behind the arc in that stretch. The threes weren’t enough to overcome the Lakers in a game the Grizz needed to win after the OKC Thunder lost earlier in the day.
Overall, it was bad loss for Memphis. This Lakers front office is practically trying to lose games to secure better lottery position, but the Grizzlies could not take advantage. There were some missing pieces for the game; Marc Gasol was out for the fifth straight game, JaMychal Green missed his third straight, Andrew Harrison sat because of an ankle injury, and Vince Carter simply earned a game off.
Here are my grades for Sunday’s game:
Memphis’ Rebounding, F-
There isn’t even a such a thing as an “F minus” but if you watched this game, you would understand. I mentioned earlier that the Grizz lost the rebound battle by 18, 51-33 - that’s not good at all. Let’s take into consideration that the Grizzlies were only playing with two real bigs in Zach Randolph and Brandan Wright. I get that. But the Lakers aren’t a big team either, and they don’t even start a true center. Julius Randle is their “big”. The Grizzlies guards could have boxed him out.
There needed to be a conscious effort to rebound as a team, and it just wasn’t there Sunday night. The Grizzlies gave up 17 offensive rebounds, including a huge one late in the fourth quarter on a Larry Nance Jr. tip in. It’s tough to beat any team giving up double digit offensive rebounds.
Mike Conley, B+
Mike Conley has been on fire of late. If I was grading his performance in the last month, I would give him an A+ for sure. But he struggled in this game. Everyone is entitled to one off game. He had just six points heading into the fourth quarter and struggled shooting the entire game.
He was an inefficient 6-17 from the field, including 4-11 from deep. His grade is higher based on his fourth quarter performance. He led the team down the stretch as he always does. Most importantly, he kept the Grizz in the game with ridiculous three pointers. It was Conley’s sixth game in a row with 20 points or more, but his first double-double (20 pts, 12 ast) in eight games. Conley looks strong offensively heading into the playoffs.
Brandan Wright, B
I like Brandan Wright. This man knows his role and plays it well. He is making the most of his minutes while Gasol and Green are out, and the Lakers game was more of the same. Wright is uber-efficient, mostly because he only takes 6-footers, or dunks. He was 7-10 for 16 points against the Lakers. He was able to catch a few lobs from Grizzly guards and found open seams when Conley drove the ball.
The Grizzlies struggled rebounding as a team Sunday, but Wright stood out in that regard. He only had three rebounds - a 6’10 power forward that plays 32 minutes should accidentally grab more than three rebounds. He is playing his role well; we can’t ask much more from a player coming off injury and working his way into the rotation. But rebounding will be key for this team in the last few games of the season, and Wright could be a big part of that.
Troy Daniels, B+
Like Conley, Troy Daniels has also been tearing it up recently. His 20-point performance on Sunday was his third straight 20-point game. The bench has needed to step up, especially with some key players out because of injuries, and Daniels has been the go-to. The one-two punch with Randolph off the bench has given the starters more rest and created mismatches with opponents’ second teams.
Daniels was 6-11 from three for the game, 7-13 overall (yes that means he made a field goal inside the three point line, WHAT?!). It’s no secret that Daniels gets abused on defense; he’s just undersized and easy to back down in the paint. Scoring like he has the past three games makes up for his defensive inability, so look to see if he can keep up his hot shooting.