Thursday, February 7, 2013

Road Recap: Hawks 103, Grizzlies 92 — Mixed Messages Amid Malaise

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Tony Wroten got back in the game last night against Atlanta.
The Grizzlies lost their second straight game and fell to fifth in the conference standings behind the idle Denver Nuggets, but this one was a little less troubling than the home loss to Phoenix on Tuesday night, so let's start on the bright side. A few encouraging takeaways:

Zach Randolph had 20 points and 7 rebounds on 10-18 shooting, completing a 20-10 back-to-back set that eased concerns about this ability to produce at an All-Star level.

Jerryd Bayless went 15-4-5 on 6-9 shooting off the bench. This is his eighth straight game in double-digits, giving more confidence that he can be counted on as a legitimate sixth man and can make up some of the scoring lost with the Rudy Gay deal.

Tony Wroten and Ed Davis — the team's two most athletic and high-upside young players, both of whom Lionel Hollins seems reluctant to give consistent rotation minutes — got in the game and both produced in their limited time. Davis took — and made — only one shot in his nine minutes, but also snatched 6 rebounds and had a block. Wroten, as has typically been the case, came into the game and made plays. He hit a three (!). He moved off the ball for a lay-up. He dropped three dimes and added a block of his own in nine minutes. Davis and Wroten were the only players to garner multiple minutes and have a positive plus/minus.

But that was outweighed by the bad:

Darrell Arthur was dreadful for the second night in a row (1-6 from the floor and zero rebounds in 16 minutes).

Mike Conley got lit up by an opposing point guard for the second night in a row, with the Hawks' Jeff Teague notching 22 points and 13 assists on 7-10 shooting.

Tayshaun Prince has gone from “good” to “okay” to “bad” in three games with the team, though there's no reason to think that's a meaningful trend. What is probably more meaningful is that Prince has played 99 minutes for the Grizzlies now and hasn't launched a three-point attempt. That will change, but the wishful notion that adding Prince was going to positively impact the team's three-point shooting is being swiftly deflated.

And, most meaningful of all, the team's defense — particularly in transition and particularly at the three-point line — was wildly out of character. The Hawks, one of the NBA's best three-point shooting teams anyway, blew the game open in the second quarter with a series of open transition threes. On the game, the Hawks were 10-24 from long-range, literally doubling-up the Grizzlies from beyond the arc.

This was a rare game where the Conley Correlation didn't hold (he had 17 points, 8 assists, and only 2 turnovers), but, for this team, sucking on defense is a game-changer when it comes to the usual indicators.

The defensive performance had nothing to do with personnel and everything to do with focus and effort. With the offense — which had been really bad for a while before the trades — showing signs of respectability, I think the current malaise is much more about wounded attitude/chemistry than change in quality of personnel. (I also wonder if the mental energy required to re-orient the offense on the fly has sapped the focus on the other end a bit.)

The pieces are still there to compete for the fourth seed and have a competitive showing in the playoffs, if the team can get it's head straight. Toward that end, I thought the quotes and reporting from Rob Fischer from the post-game locker-room was encouraging. It sounded like more than empty platitudes and more like some team leaders — notably Gasol and Tony Allen — determined to pull this back together.

Certainly, Friday night against hot-shooting playoff rival the Golden State Warriors will be an important test.

Tags: ,


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

© 1996-2019

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation