Two in a row? Could it be? And in two historically disastrous venues for the Grizzlies?
A very different game against a very different team, but there were still seven things of note:
Thing one: The Conley bounceback. Lawson is quick, but that’s about it. Could Conley find his way into the lane and avoid Faried and the other DEN frontcourt cats? He did his job and hit a couple threes, but it’s still easy to see that MC11 is more upset about the lack of backup PG consistency than just about anyone on the planet. How does one tell? Bayless and Calathes were both worthless this night, and Lawson and Robinson combined for 17 points in the fourth quarter. Should the Grizzlies have checked on Old Man Andre while they were in town?
Thing two: The Tony Allen comeback. Could he find himself after an awful game in PHX that saw him log only twelve-odd minutes of game time? He did, and in the ways that one might expect-sneaky runout or two off a steal, couple timely lane cuts…but four nasty turnovers, all of which were at the seeming worst time. However, the case could be made that a TO is like running out of staples-whenever it happens is the worst possible time. He and Conley have to be praying for a quick return with as much fervor as anyone on the planet.
Thing three: ZBo, the continuation. Could Randolph keep it rollin’ in the Rockies? He did, but it mattered not, as the Grizzlies played no defense. It’s always a treat to watch him be one of the best at what he does, but this night, even a ZBo game couldn’t drag the team to a win.
Thing four: Koufos and the rebounding game in general. Not good. Koufos only played 22 minutes, not crazy low, but the reason was that he didn’t do well on the boards and his body has obviously de-acclimatized from the altitude, as his five fouls were largely of the “had to play defense with the hands ‘cuz the legs wouldn’t get me there” variety. The Grizzlies were otherwise outhustled on the glass, to the tune of a -6 for the game.
Thing five: Three point defense. Remember last night, when the Grizzlies (luckily in part) held the Suns to 8 for 30 or some such? Well, let’s get rid of that silly memory and let the Nuggets go over 40 percent from distance, with a couple by Robinson and Lawson in the fourth being particularly, ahem, offensive. That darned Foye. All-time Grizzkiller? I say so.
Thing six: The bench. 54 points was surely an anomaly, but better bench play is going to loom larger and larger as the dog days of the NBA season come around….especially since TA and Prince will never start getting younger. Baaack doooowwwwn to Earth they came. The Nuggets’ reserves went over-double what the Grizzlies’ did, 53-26. Second night of a back to back at altitude is tough-but the rhythm of substitutions seemed herky-jerky.
Thing seven: Victory or defeat? Defeat. Save for that blast in the third, the Grizzlies struggled to keep up all game. No quarter under 23 points for the Grizz, but they got two 30-or-better periods hung on them. Gasol’s absence looms larger every day, but it’s basically the same guys, and the Grizzlies’ defense is, well, terrible this season compared to last. Scheme tweaks, confidence, downward spirals of emotion as losses pile up…it’s surely a combination of things, but if the Grizzlies are to have any hope of playing past mid-April, it’s gotta change.
And Detroit right after breakfast on Sunday ain’t exactly gonna be an easy one.