VOL. 132 | NO. 48 | Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Grizzlies’ Struggles Continue in Loss to Lowly Nets
By Don Wade
By the end, FedExForum looked like the early days at The Pyramid. The Grizzlies were losing by double-digits as the clock was winding down and fans were filing out into the night.
The Nets’ Brook Lopez (11) defends Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison. Brooklyn stunned Memphis 122-109 Monday, March 6, at FedExForum. It was just the Nets’ second win in their last 20 games.
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
The Grindhouse, once a fortress of defense and Memphis pride, had a sadness about it, a tiredness and a quietness about it, except for the occasional and echoing “boo-o-o-o” that was well-deserved, if also pointless.
For the time being – and that time is now more than two months long – it seems no amount of passion from fans or voiced frustration from the coach and players has the power to change what and who the Grizzlies are.
“Since Jan. 1, we are a mediocre basketball team,” the coach, David Fizdale said.
Given that the Grizzlies are 14-14 since Jan. 1, Fizdale would be right by both definition and perception. But the Grizzlies went few steps lower on Monday, March 6, with their wretched 122-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets – the worst team in the NBA, and now boasting an 11-51 record.
For the lowly Nets, this was just their second win in their last 20 tries. And just their third win since Jan. 1. So take solace in that if you wish: Memphis has 11 more wins than the Nets since the start of the year.
They also are on a three-game losing streak, the coach is juggling the lineup like some kind of carnival performer, and players are at a loss to explain it.
How can the Grizzlies lose to the Nets and give up 122 points?
“I don’t know what to say,” Zach Randolph said.
How can the Nets go from 12 points down with 3:09 left in the third quarter to closing the game on a 47-22 run?
“Too many breakdowns, lack of communication, not really commitment all around on what guys wanted to do,” said center Marc Gasol. “We had too many, `My bads,’ too many, `We should have done this, we should have done that.’ Too many of them. Especially down the stretch. If we don’t get stops in the last few minutes of the game, then it’s just really, really hard for us to win.”
Scoring, however, was also an issue. The Grizzlies’ last field goal came at the 5:33 mark in the fourth quarter. Point guard Mike Conley had his fifth straight game of at least 23 points, scoring 32 points with six assists. It didn’t even matter.
“We’re frustrated. We’re frustrated because we understand what we’re trying to build toward,” Conley said.
And yes, he used the word “championship.” It’s admirable to still be thinking that way, to still believe.
But of late, the Grizzlies have produced precious little evidence that they are a team to be feared in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs – never mind going any further.
Fizdale shook up Monday’s lineup by starting rookie Andrew Harrison in the backcourt with Conley, and Brandan Wright at power forward. Gasol and small forward Chandler Parsons, who with 12 points had his first double-digit scoring game in more than a month, rounded out the starters.
Tony Allen said he was “definitely surprised” when told he wasn’t starting, but also said he was “all in.”
Still, it’s getting very late for the kind of seismic shifts in the starting lineup and rotation that now seem to be the norm. Postgame, Fizdale indicated he would stay with this lineup for at least at little while.
“A couple of games and see what it turns into,” he said. “If this isn’t getting it done, I’m ready shuffle some more because that’s my job. I’m not going to be satisfied with mediocrity.”
He has company – all those fans who couldn’t get out of FedExForum fast enough.