In a very much-needed win for the Grizzlies they fell short last night to the Chicago Bulls 95-91. Mike Conley filled the stat sheet with a game-high 26 points (9-of-19 FG), nine assists, six rebounds and a season-high six steals. The Bulls would win this game without Derrick Rose or Loul Deng.
This was just a bad loss for the Grizzlies in a much-needed situation. Twenty turnovers for the Grizzlies which tied a season-high. The Grizzlies were unsuccessful to hit a single three-pointer (0-of-5 3FG) in a game for the first time this season. The last time the Grizzlies failed to record at least one made three-pointer in a game came on the road Jan. 24, 2011 against the Toronto Raptors.
One of the bigger struggles for the Grizzlies came at the start of the second half with a two-point lead (46-44); the Bulls opened the third quarter on a 20-4 run to take a 16-point lead (66-48) with 3:19 left in the quarter. Memphis rallied to cut the deficit to just one (72-71) with 9:01 left in the game. D.J. Augustin would hit a big time 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock buzzer to give them a five point lead with 5:32 left in the game. The Grizzlies wouldn’t come closer the rest of the game.
“We played hard. We played poorly. We played poor in the first half and worse in the third quarter. We battled back and made a good run. We just had to get some energy in the game. Some guys had some tough nights,” Coach Dave Joerger said after the game.
Considering Zach Randolph had 10 points and 10 rebounds this was not his best night for the Grizzlies. Joakim Noah made his defensive presence felt on Randolph the entire night. All of those easy “Z-Bounds” that Randolph would make he couldn’t do it last night. If he did he had to earn them against Noah.
Last night was another night of showing that Mike Conley will do everything they can to try to carry this team to a victory. He was working on so many different ways to get to the basket and was the main reason they were able to make a comeback in the third and fourth quarter. Conley has now scored 20-or-more points in nine games this season.
“He is a heck of a player. He cares so much about his team and this organization. They bottled us up especially with their size. We just tried to keep it in the middle and tried to turn him loose to attack their bigs. Mike is our primary ball handler and playmaker. He did a great job at that. He took some hits, but he has got a heart of a champion. I can’t say enough good things about having Mike Conley on our team,” Joerger said on Conley’s performance.
James Johnson came off the bench to post his fourth career double-double with 13 points and a season-high 10 rebounds along with three steals, three blocks, and two assists. He had no care to get in the foul line and having the possibility of getting to the foul line. Considering Johnson struggled last night he is becoming a nice fit to the team so far but I’m not ready to call him a superstar for this team yet.
“I’m excited about what he has brought to our team so far and I’m looking forward to having him…There is time in the first and third quarters where we are low on energy. He comes in and gives you some other things. He gives you some of the 50/50 balls. He gets blocked shots. He runs hard. He’ll throw down a dunk here and there. People get excited about it. I’m really excited about having him in our ball club. I thought that was a great move by our front office,” Joerger on Johnson’s performance with the team so far this year.
If fans want to get ahead blame the officiating for this loss I have no problem considering there was some awful calls late in the fourth quarter. Tony Brothers proved once again how badly he can be at officiating but this was once again a much-needed win for the Grizzlies before they head out on a three game road trip.
So we are at the end of the year and what a year it has been with the high of going to the Western Conference Finals and to the lows of losing Marc Gasol at the beginning of this season. So it’s curious to know if any of the players have any New Year’s Resolutions.
“Just get back to the playoffs and turn this thing around,” Conley said.
Grizzlies’ fans hope this resolution comes true. Believe Memphis. Happy New Year.