Hard to hate that? Oh, I bet it’s not if your name is (insert Grizzly player or coach here).
Well, the best player in the world scored 13 in the fourth, and the Grizzlies lost.
Also, Shane Battier, you are no longer welcome in my county.
I’d run down the “unlucky seven” about this loss that brought the end of the Griz’ eight-game win streak, but darn it, they just didn’t do seven things wrong.
There were a few things, however…
Issue one: Three-point defense. Sure, it becomes a pick-your-poison thing. When LBJ has the ball, if you double with the guy from the top of the key, Shane kills you. If you double out from the post, there’s either a cutter or Bosh waiting for the pass, or two passes lead to Ray, whose defender has rotated off him. Even without Shane, it’s still 6 of 14, over 40%. Not good. It’s almost like…this “Heat” team is good or something. However, the Grizzlies’ defense is no slouchy, porous, lazy entity. Check out the ESPN shot chart for the game-way too many dots and not enough x’s from beyond the arc for the Heat. While you’re lookin’ at the shot chart…
Issue two: …check out all the big bad x’s for the Grizzlies from long distance. Not good. Sure, the Grizzlies are never going to be mistaken for the ’05 Suns-but 4-for-13 doesn’t get it in a game this close and this competitive. There were chances and open looks, the team just couldn’t put ‘em down.
Issue three: That gimpy ankle Randolph suffered early, early in the first quarter hurt. Can’t say enough about his trooper/warrior mentality to keep playing-but I bet he’s going through a ton of ice on that ankle right now. Gotta love that 14 and 9 is a “weak” outing. He committed a couple fouls that he might not have and missed a couple shots that he might not have because it was harder for him to maintain his space.
Issue four: Marc Gasol, you are awesome at basketball. I would NEVER compare him to all-time great (and my kindred Deadhead spirit) Bill Walton, but I can’t lie-I have thought of Walton more than once when seeing Gasol operate at the elbow and call defenses from the center position with such skill. The read on the tic-tac-toe where the guard passes to Gasol at the elbow, who then feeds ZBo on the cut if the space is available is pure basketball joy to watch, and he did it very well tonight-he tried the inside pass, he shot the ball extremely well himself, and passed to Prince on one particularly well-executed possession.
This will not go down as the Grizzlies’ worst loss of the season, far from it-but losing such a close game to a fellow playoff team during the dog days of the season like that can never be called a victory of any sort..not even the now-thankfully-rare-for-the-Grizzlies “moral victory”.
The team will need good rest tomorrow, as the same Orlando team that nearly defeated the Grizzlies at FEF whilst playing only like four guys will be waiting at home on Sunday afternoon.