The Grizzlies up and down season continued as the team dropped a home game to the Utah Jazz 98-88. The Grizzlies refuse to give anyone a chance to put a finger on exactly how good they should be. On Friday they defeated a strong opponent in the Indiana Pacers only to respond with a disappointing effort against the Jazz.
The Grizzlies seem intent on providing more questions than answers lately. Here are five questions from last night’s loss…
5. Was this the most disappointing loss of the season?
I would say yes with one caveat. Obviously, by definition the most demoralizing loss of the season would have to be the 40 point loss to the Bulls in which Zach Randolph was injured.
In terms of losses where the disappointment is confined to the actual result of the game, there are only two other legitimate contenders. The first being the loss to Phoenix. The Jazz are a better team than the Suns but the fact that the Phoenix loss came on the road takes it out of the running.
The second would be the first home loss to the Spurs in which the Grizzlies looked terrible and borderline apathetic. This one is close in my mind because of the lack of effort and it being a fourth consecutive loss at the time. However, the Spurs are a formidable opponent. That game was the first win in an ongoing seven game streak.
Last night’s loss was to a team fading rather than surging. Coming in they had lost five of their last six games and three in a row. Making matters worse, they were an abysmal 2-7 on the road before last night.
4. What caused the loss?
Of course, no one thing can be pinpointed as the sole reason for any win or loss. Most people would probably focus on the unforced errors and poor defensive execution at the end of the game. Both things were troubling but in my opinion this game was lost in the first half, not the fourth quarter.
The role of comeback kids is fun for the fans to watch. It’s exciting and produces memorable moments like those from the Golden State and Denver games. However, it isn’t a sustainable strategy for this team.
The Grizzlies were down 12 points in the first quarter on their home floor against a team they need to be better than. They fought back several times with the Jazz answering with runs of their own. Finally, the Grizzlies took a brief lead in the third quarter before crumbling down the stretch. Lionel Hollins referenced running out of gas in his post game press conference but it is more than that.
When you are constantly in the position of having to come back, you leave yourself no margin for error. This team is too flawed to be expected to play mistake free for any stretch of the game. The truth is that the Grizzlies should have had a big enough lead in the fourth quarter to sustain missed free throws and bobbled passes.
3. Who is the goat?
There is plenty of blame to go around but if we are picking one goat it has to be Rudy Gay. Gordon Hayward is a solid NBA player but not one that Rudy Gay should be torched by. Gay had a solid third quarter after being owned in the first half.
This seemed promising heading into the fourth as Gay was visibly frustrated by having been outplayed. Then he turned into a net zero player. By this I mean, for every positive play he made on the offensive end, he gave up the equivalent on defense. Hayward, who averages about 10 points per game scored a season high 23.
2. Can we say goodbye to the Tams?
Unfortunately, not even close. The Grizzlies are now 0-2 in the ABA throwback jerseys. While I’m not a superstitious person myself, if they keep losing in the jerseys the narrative will build. It doesn’t help that they are hideous. Sadly, the Grizzlies will be “honoring” the Tams four more times this season. Even worse, three of those games will be at home. The remaining dates are:
February 15 at New Jersey
February 18 vs. Golden State
February 29 vs. Dallas
March 16 vs. Toronto
1. What should the Grizzlies be expected to do this week?
The Grizzlies have four games left in what could prove to be a critical week. They play the Houston Rockets at home on Tuesday before traveling to New Jersey to face the Nets on Wednesday. They finish the week with a home back to back against Denver and Golden State. This will be discussed at length in the weekly Grizzlies podcast which should be up tomorrow morning but here is my quick take.
3-1: Very Good My Prediction
2-2: Nothing to get excited about but solid.