Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Postcards from the Edge: Grizzlies catch a beatdown from the Pelicans

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 11:41 PM

Griz coach Dave Joerger has a problem on his hands: the Grizzlies look bad through five games.
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Griz coach Dave Joerger has a problem on his hands: the Grizzlies look bad through five games.

Instead of trying to craft a narrative about how it’s either (a.) time to panic or (b.) not time to panic, I’m going to list all of the things that went horribly wrong for the Grizzlies in their 99–84 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies came out and played such a flat, uninspired 35-or-so minutes of basketball that it’s hard for me to imagine a way to convey it on the page. Those of you who were in attendance—and, don’t forget, many in attendance started booing when the Griz were down 22 points at the end of the third quarter, and rightfully so—will understand.

1.

Marc Gasol was a complete, total disaster tonight. In 30 minutes of play, he managed to secure 1 rebound, and that’s not even the worst thing he did. On multiple occasions, Gasol was one-on-one against Greg Stiemsma—GREG STIEMSMA—within seven feet of the basket, did a move to get by him, which is easy because IT’S GREG FREAKING STIEMSMA and he’s Marc Gasol, and once he was by his man and completely unguarded three feet from the basket, he… froze, and passed it back out to somebody on the perimeter. One time such a pass landed in the hands of Tony Allen, who was wide open from three, who promptly fired one, which (as is typical) missed and was rebounded by the Pelicans.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Gasol, but he looked like he’d rather be back in Eurobasket tonight than competing in an NBA game. He wasn’t making good decisions on offense—which is very unusual for him—and he wasn’t playing well on defense at all, whether it was against Anthony Davis, which is understandable, or against Greg Stiemsma, which is roughly equivalent to guarding a cardboard cutout of my dad. [1] If Gasol doesn’t get his head right, and it hasn’t really been right yet this season, the Grizzlies are going to get worse before they get better. No two ways about it.

Also, speaking of Eurobasket, does no one remember the year that Pau Gasol broke his foot playing for Spain and ruined an entire season of Grizzlies basketball[2]? Would that not be one of the worst things that could happen to this Grizzlies team? Why risk it?

2.

The Grizzlies have now played five games, and they’ve had five games in which the starters came out and looked like they weren’t expending any effort. I usually hate it when people accuse pro athletes of not caring, or of not playing hard, or not trying, but the demeanor of the Grizzlies’ starters—excluding Mike Conley[3], who has been brilliant among a sea of scrubs—has been somewhere between “My Bloody Valentine on stage” and “Lindsay Lohan pretending to pay attention at a probation hearing.”

They look like they can’t be bothered. And they’re playing like it, too. All the while trying to do things they shouldn’t be doing, pass it places they shouldn’t be passing, foul when they shouldn’t foul, and just generally play sloppy, poorly executed basketball. Basketball that will not get you anywhere in the NBA, especially not when everyone in the West improved and is coming for your playoff spot. They’re not playing like they realize it—or, worse, they’re playing like they realize that and are already tired.

3.

Jerryd Bayless went down with a right knee sprain.

4.

It was a great night for Zach Randolph—he left the game after playing 8 minutes because his fiancée was giving birth to his son—but his absence meant that the Grizzlies had no one to rebound. Tony Allen and Ed Davis tied for most offensive rebounds of any Grizzlies player, and both of them had… wait for it… TWO. This Grizzlies roster is built around scoring off of rebounds and generating turnovers. Whatever they’re trying to do right now is not working, and they’re not doing what they’re good at.

5.

Turnovers. Tired of talking about this one, but until the Grizzlies figure out how to stop coughing up the ball, I’m going to have to talk about it. The Grizzlies had 8 turnovers in the first quarter, which is ridiculous. They had 11 at the half, 14 after three, and ended with 18. But eight, in the first quarter. This starting lineup has completely forgotten how to take care of the ball, and it’s baffling. And infuriating.

6.

I love Quincy Pondexter, and I’m not a huge believer in the +/- stat, but Pondexter was –22 in 17 minutes tonight. He was not good. He was not mediocre. He was not “a little off.” He was bad on both ends of the floor. I’m not sure what’s happened to Pondexter’s game so far this season to radically alter his offensive skill set from what was so helpful to the Grizzlies last year, but he hasn’t looked right all season, and tonight was the worst we’ve seen out of him in a long time. Here’s hoping Q can get back to his floor-spacing, hustle-playin’ ways some time soon and stop overthinking everything he does. We need that QPon back. The current version isn’t helping, contract extension and all.

7.

At some point, the lineups are going to have to change. Some of the groups that saw the floor tonight did nothing but get scored on and turn over the ball.

8.

Mike Miller cannot play 23 minutes in mostly garbage time ever again. He just can’t. Again: why take the risk?

I don’t care what he feels like, or how much Joerger trusts him, or how much he says he’s up for it—past is prologue. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Dude gets hurt a lot. Stop pretending he’s 24 years old again just because he’s back in Memphis.

If he’s found a Fountain of Youth with Mississippi River water in it, it’s probably full of petrochemicals and catfish droppings anyway.

Conclusions

I’m done. I want to go to bed and try to sleep off whatever the awful side effects of sitting through that Grizzlies game are. It was like sitting and watching a meth lab burn to the ground: nobody wins. If the Grizzlies can’t figure out a way to play with intensity and effort and actually execute—especially on defense, something this team is supposed to be good at—they’re going to lose to the Warriors by 40 points on Saturday, and then they’re going to go to Indiana on Monday and get their brains beaten in by the Pacers, who are on fire right now. It’s going to be ugly.

Here’s hoping the Griz can see past the end of the bloodied nose given to them by the Pelicans tonight and understand that they have to play better—that whatever they’re doing right now is not working and they’re lucky they’re not 0–5 to start the season. At some point soon I’ll take a look at the positives of the season so far, assuming I can find any. Gotta balance out all of this negativity somehow. But for tonight, I’m wallowing in it, because the Grizzlies earned it. They played like they didn’t care, and they got embarrassed for it. I can only hope they’re as bothered by it as the fanbase is.



  1. Sorry Dad, you know I love you, but a cardboard cutout of you wouldn’t be good at basketball.  ↩
  2. Remember Junior Harrington, Memphis Grizzly?  ↩
  3. Conley said after the game that he remembers getting booed on a regular basis when he was a rookie and the Grizzlies were horrible, and that he doesn’t ever want to go back to that. Tonight had to have brought back some painful memories for him, memories that hopefully will drive him to assert some leadership and get the rest of the guys in the locker room on the same page.  ↩

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