Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Next Day Notes: Jazz 97, Grizzlies 91

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 9:11 AM

click to enlarge Jon Leuer played quite a bit in Zach Randolph's absence, but didn't have a particularly good game. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Jon Leuer played quite a bit in Zach Randolph's absence, but didn't have a particularly good game.

Note: Holiday duties intervene, so this will be a shorter rant than usual—whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is entirely up to you.

The Grizzlies lost to the Utah Jazz last night, 97–91. The Grizzlies were without Zach Randolph (out with a sore right knee) and Tony Allen (still out with a corneal abrasion suffered when he took a finger to the eye in the Golden State game a week ago), but that wasn’t why they lost, at least, not in total.

To be sure, Randolph’s absence was felt, especially, as the Jazz have several quality big men in Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Enes Kanter, and that (along with some effort/positioning issues) led the Griz to get out-rebounded 39–29. It was especially noticeable on the Jazz’s[1] offensive glass, where Utah racked up extra possession after extra possession, allowing them to hang around in the game and eventually take and keep the lead.

It would be naïve to think that fatigue didn’t play a part in last night’s performance—the Griz were finishing up a set of five games in seven nights, and seven games in eleven nights. But more than physical fatigue, it seemed like mental fatigue—the Grizzlies looked like a team that was about to get three days off for Christmas and knew it. With any luck they’ll return to action against Houston on Friday (at home) and be back on the same page and ready to execute.

Three Things from Last Night

➭ Jordan Adams played during the first quarter for the first time ever last night, and ended up playing ten minutes in which he scored 5 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, and blocked 1 shot. Adams played well, matched up against fellow rookie Rodney Hood on both ends of the court, including one really nifty layup. More importantly, he looked like he knew what he was doing. I’m sure he’s nowhere near as ready as Dave Joerger would like for him to be, but if he’s going to be able to contribute in spot minutes, there’s no reason not to play him. The Grizzlies have a lot riding on Adams’ development, and it was encouraging to see him do well last night.

➭ Quincy Pondexter got another DNP-CD, something he’s been doing sporadically as of late. Pondexter played big minutes against Cleveland, Chicago, and San Antonio—presumably because of Tony Allen’s absence—but he’s been struggling to hit open shots and has generally looked out of sorts on offense all season long. If Vince Carter is getting his offensive game going (more on that in a minute) and Jordan Adams can play 10–15 minutes without screwing anything up, Pondexter may find himself on the end of the bench sooner rather than later. It’s worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline starts to loom large in NBA consciousness.

➭ Speaking of Vince Carter: he’s been hitting a lot more shots recently, and he looks like he can run again. I’m glad I spent so much time working on that piece about how it might be time to start worrying about whether he was going to be better this season. Vince must’ve read it before last night’s game and then been inspired to demolish Rudy Gobert:

I don’t think I need to say anything else. Just watch that a few times.

  1. I am an English major and I still don’t really know what the possessive form of “Jazz” is. Which, really, is one of the weirdest problems that arises when you name teams with singular proper nouns.  ↩

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