Monday, January 30, 2012

Spurs 83, Grizzlies 73 — Where Bad Shooting and Bad Rebounding and Bad Defense Means … Um …

Posted by on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 11:01 PM

The Grizzlies delivered their worst home performance of the season. Individually, the poor effort was lead by what are supposed to be the team's two best players, with Rudy Gay having probably his worst game since his rookie season (1 point on 0-7 performance and listless play on both ends all night) and increasingly tired looking Marc Gasol registering 7 points on 3-11 shooting and an out-of-character zero assists. (He did have 12 rebounds.) But this just wasn't about poor individual play. It was a bad team effort, with the Grizzlies giving up more offensive rebounds (14) than they had assists (10).

From the opening tip, the Spurs — playing on the second night of a back-to-back after going to overtime against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night — played with fluidity, all crisp passing and decisive play. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies, home from a long West Coast road trip and with a day's rest, looked as tired mentally as physically, playing an uncertain, hiccup-y game marked by equal doses of poor effort and poor execution.

“When you don't make shots and you don't defend and you don' rebound, you're going to lose,” Lionel Hollins said after the game, pointing out that those second two elements are a function of effort.

“Shooting comes and goes. You can't get discouraged when you're not hitting [and let it affect other parts of your game],” Hollins said.

The Grizzlies have had home performances this bad before — they seemed to happen on opening night most seasons — but this one felt particularly ill-timed, coming off a typically rough West Coast road trip and with a game tomorrow night against perhaps the league's deepest and most energetic team (the Denver Nuggets) followed by another potentially rough road trip (to Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Boston).

A four-game losing streak isn't inherently a big deal. Last season, en route to the playoffs, the Grizzlies had separate four- and five-game losing streaks. A year before, on the way to 40 wins, there were seven- and five-game losing streaks. In the franchise's three initial playoff seasons, they had eight different losing streaks of four games or more.

But Monday night's game was, on paper, a more likely win than the next four games. A four-game losing streak is one thing. What about seven or eight? And in a shorter season, these streaks are more damaging.

Beyond just the losses, there's a troubling trend of weak starts and sputtering offense, with the Grizzles under 92 points in each of their past five games.

Scrapping the usual long-form postgame notebook due to usual Tuesday deadlines with the print edition, but we'll be wading back into this when the Grizzlies face the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.

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