Huh? Did I fall asleep? Who woke me up?
Oh gee, look at that score.
If I’m able to keep myself from snoring through this recap as much as the Grizzlies sleepwalked through the game itself, we’ll look at seven reasons/causes for the Grizzlies looking like zombie forms of themselves…
Thing one: Fatigue. It’s a real thing, and it’s really happening to the Grizzlies. Just like having to make a bunch of Q4 comebacks to win individual games, having to work this hard to try to secure a playoff spot after an injury-plagued season is wearing on the team, especially on the players who’ve lost time to significant boo-boos.
Brief aside: Jordan Hill has his hair game turned up to ELEVEN.
Ok, fatigue. Rebounding. 46-38 Timberwolves. It’s one of the more valid cliches around that “rebounding is all effort”, and the fact that there have been several alarming rebounding deficits on recent Grizz box scores is a giant red flag. Poor positioning and a distinct lack of, well, jumping.
Thing two: More on the fatigue thing. The Grizzlies shot SIX free throws at Minnesota. Six. A case could be made that Conley deserved to shoot one or two more than he was granted, but otherwise…the Grizzlies weren’t working hard enough down in the crowded area under the goal to make it worth a whistle. Marc Gasol is beaten up from a long season with a nasty knee injury thrown in and a recent ankle tweak…and is playing like it. Yes, he went 9-18, and held the Grizzlies in the game somewhat…but he was 4-12 in the paint. That’s horrible. Sometimes you just press the pedal and the car doesn’t go. That little foot move, the extra effort with the hip and/or the shoulder to clear space…it just wasn’t there.
Thing three: Speaking of cars not going when you press the pedal, the ZBo-mobile had octane rating zero this night. How many of you thought “ok, he’s 1-7 through three quarters, time to adjust the headband and get it done”? I know I wasn’t the only one..except he went…0-1 in the final frame. Fatigue is frustrating, it showed in his defense when he was switched off Love in a hurry in the first quarter (not that guarding Love is easy for anyone).
Thing four: Time for another no-namer to make the Grizzlies look like a bunch of D-Leaguers…RONY TURIAF, COME ON DOWN! The Grizzlies looked to be in slow motion compared to the not incredibly talented but ridiculously energetic Turiaf, especially during a second quarter that was perhaps the Grizzlies’ worst stretch of the night. 11 and 7 with three blocks in around 22 minutes of time. Ed Davis was the only Grizzlies big who looked to have that kind of spring in his step (a decent line for him too), but Turiaf just slayed the Bear.
Thing five: Conley. 3-15. Major, major ouch. Not one rebound. Sure, he’s a PG-but zero? In 33 minutes? There’s a blind-squirrel-nut joke in there somewhere. Bottom line is the same as it is for Gasol and Randolph-to play “from behind” all season and then be forced to put a ton of stock in a grueling 5-game road trip with a lot of air miles involved is just a tall wall to climb.
Thing six: Is it time to figure out a way to get Tony Allen back in the starting lineup? PLEASE CAN WE BRING PRINCE OFF THE BENCH JUST ONCE. Prince sure took the quick hook this game, with Joerger yanking him in favor of Miller about four minutes in. Could this be a sign that the head coach is beginning to waver on the commitment to Tayshaun Prince? It’s understood that TA has been one of the guys lighting the dumpster on fire (more on that in a second), but to just give it a shot?
Thing seven: Speaking of wavering…Joerger’s sub patterns are stayin’ weird. It’s plain that he’s showing less and less patience with players, no matter who it may be, and that’s fine-but it takes a long time to alter course with a ship that moves so slowly. Johnson and Davis have worked their way back into some playing time, to decent but not world-changing effect, and Tony Allen’s recent discordant (and not in that TA way that we love) stretch of play has earned him only on the order of 10-12 or so minutes per game lately (0-3 FG and 0-2 FT with 2 TO in 12 minutes at the Wolves), and Leuer played the white flag role against MIN. Can’t fault Joerger for trying to find something that works, but this late in the season, it bears a strong resemblance to the throwing up of the hands and the throwing of the lineups against the hopefully sticky wall.
Every game STILL looms ever larger. Can the Grizzlies kick the mule one more time and enable themselves to reach the postseason?