Even the most pessimistic of Grizzlies faithful likely did not predict the team to go winless over their first four games in Orlando. But here we are, as on Wednesday Memphis fell to the Jazz by a final score of 124-115. Utah came on out top thanks large in part to their superior ball movement and three-point shooting. Collectively, they buried 18 of their 45 attempts from beyond the arc (40 percent) and totaled 25 assists. Joe Ingles spearheaded Utah’s excellent offensive showing; the Australian finished with 25 points, five assists, and four rebounds in 34 minutes. Memphis played with a dire lack of defensive intensity throughout.
Also, the Grizzlies were burned by points off turnovers in this one. Utah scored 23 points off 14 Memphis blunders. The Jazz turned it over more (18 times) but Ja Morant and crew were unable to capitalize on said mistakes with the level of effectiveness that their opponents did. Memphis was outscored by eight in this category, which was practically their margin of defeat.
For all that the Grizzlies did poorly, they did a lot of things well, too. The squad had five players reach double figures, and with 21 assists, it was clear sharing the sugar was a point of emphasis. And it should be moving forward, especially without Jaren Jackson Jr. Additionally, both Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks bounced back from sub-par shooting performances against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Let’s recap the good and the bad from Memphis’ fourth consecutive defeat.
Grayson Allen: 27 minutes played, 20 points, 7-10 shooting (6-8 from deep), 2 rebounds
Grayson Allen has been one of few bright spots for the Grizzlies since the season’s resumption. After averaging 16 points over his last two, he erupted for a season-high 20 points against his former team. I have long held the belief that Allen is the best pure shooter on this roster. He proved it Wednesday.
Grayson’s shooting from distance kept the Grizzlies in the game when momentum began to swing Utah’s way. It seemed as if whenever he caught the ball in rhythm from behind the arc, it was going through the net. If not for Allen’s outstanding perimeter accuracy, this game may have been over long before the buzzer sounded.
Grayson Allen’s performance was not all sunshine and rainbows, though. He did appear lost on defense quite often as he was unable to stick with Utah’s athletic guards. But his greatness on one end compensated for his lapses on the other.
Brandon Clarke: 27 minutes played, 6 points, 3-7 shooting, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Six Grizzlies accumulated more field goal attempts than Brandon Clarke against the Jazz.
When word broke out that Clarke would be handed the starting nod for the injured Jaren Jackson Jr., I expected him to play with an added aggressiveness on the offensive end. Boy was I wrong. Clarke is insanely effective in the pick and roll, and he has served as a dependable outside shooter all season long. Yet, Brandon did a whole lot of standing around on offense. He played too unselfishly in this one. I know it may be contrary to Clarke’s usual play style, but he should have demanded the rock at times.
It is not as if Clarke lost the game for Memphis by any means. Defensively, he was active as always. It was Clarke’s passiveness towards seeking out points that cemented his performance as underwhelming.
With only four outings left for the Grizzlies before the season’s end, their stranglehold on the eight spot in the Western Conference has disappeared. The Portland Trail Blazers are now one game back of Memphis, and the San Antonio Spurs, who trail by two games, are not far behind either.
Memphis fared better against the Jazz than the Pelicans. But a loss is a loss. The Grizzlies defense has yet to play with great effort for a full 48 minutes. Opponents are killing them with dribble penetration and long distance shot-making. Unless Memphis begins to ramp up their intensity and string together some stops, their season may come to an unfortunate end soon.
Grizzlies Grade: C