Saturday, December 16, 2017

THE GRIZZLIES WON A BASKETBALL GAME

Posted By on Sat, Dec 16, 2017 at 8:06 AM

click to enlarge LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

I know we're all tired of hearing and talking about Fake News. This isn't that. It's actually a real thing that happened and I saw and I took notes and everything: the Grizzlies, last night, Friday, December 15th, AD 2017, won a game.

I know you might be reluctant to believe it. "How can I be sure you're not one of them Facebook guys that sells all the powders that make me have power ape mind concentration strength?" you might ask. Or, "Are you sure you're not an Op being pulled off by the FSB or some other apparatus of the Russian intelligence services, some sort of dezinformatsiya operation designed to trick us into acting against our own self-interest and supporting a team that didn't actually defeat the Atlanta Hawks, 96-94, in a down-to-the-wire comeback the likes of which the Grizzlies haven't seen at home in literally months?"

We don't need a thirty-seven tweet thread to talk through the details of this because (1) that's what blogs are for, you dummies, we've had them for like almost twenty years now and—hear me out—you can post things that are longer than 140 or even 280 characters there but really more importantly (2) it's that simple. Despite trailing and having to mount several comeback attempts before one took, the Grizzlies scored more points than the Hawks. They won.

The Grizzlies have improved to 9-20 on the season, and as bad as that sounds (and hooboy has it been bad) it's so much better than the alternative. It's possible that a loss tonight, to the 6-win Hawks, especially in another close game scenario, could have broken the backs of this team, and killed whatever fighting spirit they still had left. The Miami game proved that spirit was hanging on by the thinnest of threads. They needed this win tonight, and they needed it badly. There's room for improvement all around, but the one thing they haven't done since Monday night when they let the Heat roll over them in the fourth quarter is quit, and that's to their credit.

The offense is mostly still a disaster; it's different from when Fizdale was the coach but not really better. One notable difference in how the Grizzlies approached the game was the disappearance of the uneven-but-mostly-good James Ennis III from the rotation entirely. Jarell Martin seemed to soak up some of the minutes left behind in his absence, along with a "The Youngs" lineup of Andrew Harrison, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, Martin, and Deyonta Davis that featured prominently in spots where there's usually at least one veteran on the floor. The rotational changes didn't help much with execution, but they did help the Grizzlies stay in touch in a game that could have gotten out of hand at several points (and as much as you hate having to admit that about a game against the abysmal Hawks, it is what is is. To quote Le Petit Prince, "on ne sait jamais").

The defense was uneven through the course of the evening but came through when it mattered, letting the Griz string together several good possessions down the stretch of the third quarter and regain a lead when it looked like before the game might have been slipping away. It's still not good enough, but given the abysmal defensive awareness from some of the lineups the Grizzlies have to play to have a rotation right now, it'll do.

So what do we make of this? Did the Grizzlies really win? Was there some sort of designer hallucinogen in my pregame Pepsi that made me trip my way into believing a circumstance which the universe simply will not allow to come to pass? Or is Atlanta just really bad?

I know which one I think it is, even though the former has at times felt much more plausible than the latter. But ultimately, you have to look at the news and decide for yourself whether you think it's been reported credibly.

Tweet of the Night

In the first quarter, it looked like it really was going to be this bad (or worse) all night.

Fortunately for @MemphisKemp it didn't stay that bad. All things must pass, that's George Harrison, right?

Up Next

The best team in the East, the Boston Celtics, fresh off a loss tonight to the Utah Jazz, and who will probably roll into FedExForum tomorrow night out for whatever sort of revenge they can get way with extracting. I don't expect a win, but who knows—now that they've got another win under their belts, maybe the Grizzlies can pull off an improbable upset instead of waiting for the right bad team to roll into town. We shall see.


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