Against anyone else, the Memphis Grizzlies probably lose last night.
They shot an abysmal 5-22 from beyond the arc, had 16 turnovers, and got out rebounded by 19, 53-34. Memphis was especially bad on the offensive glass, gathering 3 offensive rebounds to the opponent’s 19 (!!!). The Grizzlies seemed to have very little interest as the game went along in finishing off their opponent - almost as if it was an off-night without it being an off-night.
Anyone else, they lose.
Thankfully they played the Cleveland Cavaliers, who may be one of the worst NBA teams I have seen in a while. Injuries and the departure of LeBron James have crushed them, and now they are an almost-certain top-4 pick lock in the 2019 NBA Draft. Memphis helped them on their way to that “goal” last night, but the Grizzlies need to clean things up...and fast.
On to some grades. First, some good news-
Marc Gasol - 20 points on 13 shots, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks, +10
Not bad for a guy who refused to rebound at points last night.
While Marc looked...disinterested...at times, there is no denying the success he had on both ends of the floor for Memphis. He was able to do pretty much what he wanted, which again is impressive because he has had better nights in terms of effort, especially on the glass. The Cavaliers are just that bad...and Gasol made them pay, especially at the charity stripe (7-7). He remains capable of these kinds of efforts on a nightly basis, and Memphis will need them that often if they hope to remain in the playoff hunt as 2018 becomes 2019 in the days ahead.
Kyle Anderson - 15 points on 6 shots, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, +13
Yes, Kyle missed a wide-open dunk attempt...
...but aside from that, he had a terrific outing again for the Grizzlies. Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff seems to be getting more and more comfortable allowing Anderson to initiate offense and bring the ball up the floor. This is slightly confusing, since I assumed that was part of the reason he was brought to Memphis all along, but it is better to make the realization that you have a good point forward late than never. Anderson, like Gasol, is capable of these types of lines nightly. If the Grizzlies had just one scorer to put in the starting lineup next to Anderson (no offense to Garrett Temple, who has played quite well lately, but he’d be a very good reserve), they’d be in business.
That player likely isn’t walking through that door. But Slow-Mo is...and that’s a good thing for Memphis.
Now, for the not-so-good...hey, only one today!
Wayne Selden Jr. - 4 points on 5 shots, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, -5 in 12 minutes of play.
This is a fitting image of Wayne Selden Jr. as a Grizzly right now - a bystander, not doing much at all to help on a consistent basis. Sure, he will show flashes, but more often than not he is a net negative on the lineups he plays alongside. To have three turnovers in 12 minutes of play is unacceptable - if you are going to struggle defensively and not be a microwave scorer off the bench, you’d sure as hell better be able to protect the rock. Wayne’s time in the rotation is likely coming to an end as Dillon Brooks gets his legs under him post-injury, but his time as a Grizzly may be as well...
- Mike Conley gets a B, despite a poor shooting night. 0-5 from three? Yuck. Mike still makes the honor roll, though, because he continues to facilitate and create for others at a high level - 8 assists, 2 turnovers, a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio. I can dig it.
- Garrett Temple gets a B for being steady as she goes. 11 points, 5 rebounds, a block, +9. The guy is dependable, and available, and Memphis should know at this point just how valuable that is. There was a time where I though a JaMychal-Garrett for scorer trade would make the Grizzlies better. That may not really be true anymore...and that’s a testament to the work ethic and play of Temple.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. gets a C as the rookie comes back down to earth. Wait, you’re saying the 19-year-old won’t dominate every game he plays in? That’s stunning. Jaren was just kind of there Wednesday night, with more turnovers (3) than rebounds (2). Jackson Jr. needs to understand that should never, ever, be the case. Of course he should still play at least 30 minutes a night - he only got 28 minutes in this game - but the Grizzlies and their fans would be wise to continue to temper expectations and allow for Jaren to find his footing at his own pace.
The Memphis Grizzlies are back in action Saturday night against the Boston Celtics. The game tips off from FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee at 7 PM CT.