Well, the Grizzlies are nearing the point where one of the all-time pejorative terms of sport, the dreaded “hapless”, could be construed as accurate in describing the team.
Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers came to town, and in the second half, they wiped the court with the Grizzlies.
Some things we’ve seen from some Grizzlies players, and some things (from some players) we haven’t seen.
Well, to start, the usual. The Grizzlies start colder than the North Pole on December 21st, and go down 7-0, leading to the Iavaroni favorite, the timeout less than three minutes into Q1. The unusual? The Grizzlies didn’t completely fold, and came back to take their first lead at 13-12 thanks to some of Kyle Lowry’s most aggressive offensive play of the season. I think someone smells the keys possibly about to be handed his way? Driving the lane, initiating the offense with more than 14 on the shot clock, the whole thing. He feels the mantle of point guard leader and floor leader, and tonight, acted like the weight was but a feather. Keep it up, Kyle. Rudy was his slumpy self, starting 0-5, and heeding the advice he’s obviously been given-”shoot yourself out of it, Rudy”. He did wind up smelling some good mismatches and doing what he could with them, but overall, he had to use up so much energy on defense playing against one of the most confident players ever to lace ‘em up that he never really was able to get into a serious groove. Wally World pushed off on Hakim Warrick, was not called for it, and hit a bucket to end Q1 to put the Cavs up 6.
The second quarter was really no better than the first, for either team. Delonte West and Mo Williams ate up some threes to keep the Cavs up, but the Grizzlies got to the foul line incessantly to balance that out, and Hakim Warrick did what he does (which is get the ball, forget about his teammates, and try to score) with a modicum of success, showing some resilience on the offensive boards for a couple of very nice putback jams. The Cavs’ interior defense was, as one might expect, pretty much lost without Big Ben and Z, making the Grizzlies (especially, it bears repeating, Kyle Lowry) to get some business done in the paint-Lorenzen justcan’t do it anymore, JJ Hickson, while a promising player, can’t do it yet, and I just don’t know if Darnell Jackson will ever be able to do it. Sideshow Bob was a whiny pile of misplaced energy for a lot of the game, although he set some better-than-reasonable picks as he always does-he also received a T for arguing about a play where Kyle Lowry made him look like a concrete-footed chump. Hak closed the first half with a supremely sweet jam to put the Grizzlies within three, 47-44.
Boy, did the Grizzlies revert to the old “let’s ditch the game in thethird” protocol-ZEROcloseouts on shooters, stagnation on offense (leading to Ivy bringing in Conley, which further jiggled thehandle on the Grizzlies’ night), and a lackof ability to keep any energy flowing on defense. Lebron started hitting all his freethrows, Rudy started missing again, OJ was still MIA on offense after getting three first-half fouls. Bright spot of the third quarter? My man Darius Miles. Sure, he missed a dunk (he had that “man, doi remember howto do this right??” look on his face), but he played solid defense (except one possession where he was lostin the lane like a puppy and a man tworotations away hit an open jumper) and showedgood intuition and ability to attain and maintain post position on offense-he wasalso able to display a recuperating ability to cross over on the baseline and get to the hoop. He came in at about the halfway point of the third and played very, very good minutes until he was taken out.
The fourth quarter opened with the Cavs up ten with the ball…and things never really saw an uphill motion for the Grizzlies again. A couple more threes, some ooh-and-ahh garbage from Lebron, and ballgame. Miles showed a bit more, and Hamed got in the game and was able to get acouple nice rebounds and collected a nice high-IQ assist in the lane, but it was easy to tell that the teamjust didn’t have it defensively to stay with a team led by one of the best threeor four players currently in the league (Kobe/Paul/Wade, with acouple others maybe up there).
A few thoughts:
-Mike Conley has all the confidence of aman trying to defuse a bomb wearing lobster ski gloves. Offense, defense, something’s just really wronghere. Hehad a string of great shooting games earlier in the season, but those memories havevanished into the mists of time. Get it together, man.
-Haddadi is HUGE.He’s like the tall kid on the playground right now, though. I see ability, but it will bea while before he’s able to manifest it fully. Keep workin’, big guy, it will come.
-Rudy Gay needs to watch some self-help infomercials or something.Sounds odd to say, but I do think that he’s riding himself harder than anyone else is, and that is proving a bit dangerous-he’s overthinking and overtrying.
Jeez. And Utah coming in Friday. I’ll be there cheerin’ for our Grizzlies if life (y’know, work) doesn’t get in the way…