The Memphis Grizzlies simply are not good enough. They can’t shoot well enough. They can’t defend well enough. And as tragic as this may all sound three games into the Orlando seeding games, it was all true against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.
The Grizzlies were truly only able to stay in the game in the first half because of *checks notes* Grayson Allen and Brandon Clarke, just like I expected to type. Clarke paced the Grizzlies with 10 points in the first quarter alone with his usual pick-and-roll acumen, while Allen shot *checks notes again* 5-6 from beyond the arc. However, the dynamic trio of Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Jrue Holiday combined for 33 points and generally kept the Grizzlies at a healthy distance as they ended the half with a 58-51 lead
Outside of Allen, the Grizzlies continued suffering through their horrific shooting woes as they finished the half with a comically terrible stat: Grizzlies not named Grayson Allen shot a combined 1-18 (!!!) from the three-point line. Ja Morant was a particularly egregious offender, shooting 0-6 from three, while Jaren Jackson Jr, also struggled mightily from the field, making just one of six attempts.
But Jaren would bounce back to be the most instrumental player in keeping the Grizzlies in the game in the second half, as he would finish with 22 points. Dillon Brooks, who totaled 15 points on 5-13 shooting before fouling out in the fourth quarter, managed to briefly find his touch in the third quarter as the Grizzlies managed to take a brief one-point lead.
Unfortunately Ingram and Zion, who finished with 24 and 23 points respectively, were borderline unstoppable in the fourth quarter. Ingram in particular represented a haunting specter of a type of player that the Grizzlies have never truly had: a phenomenal wing scorer who can take over games with his shot-creating ability alone. Ingram scored 10 points in the final quarter alone, effectively icing any potential comeback chance for the Grizzlies as the Pelicans went on to win 109-99.
The Pelicans are now only 2.5 games behind the floundering Grizzlies. And the unfortunate truth is that the Grizzlies just may not be good enough to hold them off much longer.