I wasn't feeling well Monday night so I stayed home instead of going down to the Forum to cover the Grizzlies/Rockets game in person. As such, I got a little weird with this one. Herewith, a five-haiku recap of tonight's Grizzlies loss to the Rockets.
• The Grizzlies came out playing to win, even though they're going to be missing Marc Gasol for quite a while (estimates floating around mostly say 6-10 weeks). It would've been easy for them to pack it in tonight, but they didn't, and that's to their credit. Kosta Koufos came ready to play in his role as a starter, grabbing six points and six boards in the first quarter. He would finish with 8 and 13.
• In the first half, the Grizzlies were able to beat the Rockets by (1) getting stops and (2) pushing the ball down the floor and generating good scoring looks through pick-and-rolls and the occasional pick-and-pop. It was a good look for the personnel on the floor, and one wonders if that's not the "uptempo" stuff that Dave Joerger was talking about during training camp: not super quick transition ball, but getting good looks at the basket early in the shot clock.
• Ed Davis, who has some serious things to prove about whether he can contribute meaningfully to this team for any length of time, came out and played really well in the first half, mostly alongside Koufos and Randolph. When he was paired with Jon Leuer, it didn't seem like the offense had the same flow.
• The all-bench lineup that blew the lead in the fourth quarter and then got left on the court for far too long. Joerger should have pulled them before he did—and I would have hoped that by now he's figured out that there always needs to be a starter on the floor.
• Quincy Pondexter got a DNP tonight even though Jerryd Bayless shot 1-7 and Mike Miller continues to struggle to find his shot. Bayless—even though he was able to get a lot of mintues tonight off the ball with Nick Calathes at the backup point spot—had a terrible game, unable to hit anything. He hasn't played well since hurting his knee in the Celtics game. I would've liked to have seen Pondexter get some of those 4th quarter minutes Bayless got. He couldn't have been worse than JB was.
• This newfound tendency by Grizz Nation on Twitter to find somebody to blame for the Grizzlies' losses. Before the 4-game winning streak, it was Ed Davis' fault because he sucked. Tonight, people seemed to want to pin the blame for the loss on Nick Calathes. Aren't we smarter than this? Do we always need to find one player to be the symbol for everything wrong with this team?
Nick Calathes had a bad game. But so did the rest of the Grizzlies: the Rockets—by playing Omer Asik instead of Dwight Howard—shut down the Grizzlies' post game and forced the offense into jumpshots, and the Grizzlies have historically been horrible at shooting anything from outside 10 feet. Mike Conley was 2-14. Tony Allen attempted 12 shots and made 6 of them, but on what planet should Allen and Zach Randolph have the same number of field goal attempts? Just saying.
Let's dial back the blame game for every loss. It's going to be a long, bitter, no-fun year if we're already doing that. The Grizzlies are missing a major piece of their identity with Marc Gasol out. They're going to have to go through a feeling-out process to see how they can play without him. If you expected this team to lose Marc Gasol without missing a beat on offense, frankly, you're an idiot.
All in all, I think the Grizzlies are going to be okay. The schedule has been tough so far, and it starts to ease up as they get into December. The groups of guys who haven't played together much are going to get more familiar as the lineups change to make up for Gasol's absence in whatever way possible. It's going to be an interesting stretch of basketball, and the Grizzlies are probably going to go somewhere just above or just below .500 until Gasol gets back. Tonight was just the start.