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VOL. 128 | NO. 240 | Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shooting Woes, Injuries Piling Up for Grizzlies

DON WADE | Special to The Daily News

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Even open shots, depending on who is taking them, are not necessarily a good option. So says coach Dave Joerger and, yes, that’s how bad the Grizzlies’ offense has become.

Jerryd Bayless is one of several struggling shooters with the Grizzlies.

(Andrew J. Breig)

The Grizzlies mustered just 82 points in a 26-point loss to Golden State on Saturday, Dec. 7 at FedExForum, and it was most notable for the fact that, well, such losses are no longer notable.

Memphis, 9-10 heading into Monday night’s game here against the Orlando Magic, has failed to score 90 points in its last eight losses. Mike Miller’s 16 points off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting against Golden State not only led the Grizzlies, but was historic as Miller became the team’s eighth “unique scoring leader” in eight straight games. This had not happened in the NBA since the last time the Grizzlies did it, from Nov. 20-Dec. 6, 2002, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

“We’re not having enough guys make shots,” Joerger said after the loss to the Warriors and watching Jerryd Bayless go 0-for-11 from the floor and the team shoot 36.5 percent (31-for-85), and 20 percent from 3-point range (2-for-10).

“Jerryd has really struggled so far this season to get it going,” Joerger said. “We’re trying to get him, trying to get Quincy (Pondexter) going. Quincy goes down tonight (sprained foot). Mike Miller, that’s the most aggressive he’s been, and we need him to be aggressive. He needs to take maybe some more edgy shots. He’s trying to do the right thing and be a team guy, but a contested shot (from) Mike Miller is sometimes better than an open shot for some other people.”

Miller hit the Grizzlies’ only two 3-point makes against the Warriors and Memphis ranks last in the NBA in 3-pointers per game at 4.3 and is one of only two teams (Charlotte’s the other) averaging less than five threes per game. Their 3-point field-goal percentage of 31.6 is next-to-last, ahead of only Charlotte.

Obviously, injuries have made the Grizzlies’ offensive struggles more pronounced. Yet they managed to split the two games when they were without both center Marc Gasol (knee) and power forward Zach Randolph (toe). Against the Warriors, they played without Gasol, forward Ed Davis (ankle) and guard Tony Allen (hip).

Joerger often has blamed the Grizzlies’ effort; seven of their 10 losses have been by double-digits.

“We need to play with more energy and more joy,” he said.

“We’ve all collectively got to be positive,” Randolph said. “We can’t get down; we can’t leave an excuse.”

What’s certain is the Grizzlies are in the midst of blowing a season-long six-game homestand. They lost to a woeful Brooklyn Nets team to start the homestand, beat the Suns, then lost to the Los Angeles Clippers (understandable) and Golden State as the Warriors stopped an 11-game losing streak in the series with Memphis.

The Grizzlies have the Magic on Monday night and Oklahoma City pays a visit Wednesday night. The Grizzlies’ home record is now 4-7; last season, they went 32-9 at home. Worse, there are more teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings than behind them. Those standings are posted on a dry-erase board just inside the entrance to the locker room.

“You see it every day you walk out,” point guard Mike Conley said. “We understand we don’t have any games to give away.”

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