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VOL. 132 | NO. 232 | Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Grizzlies Reeling, Lose Fifth Straight to Portland

By Don Wade

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The Grizzlies’ fifth straight loss, and their eighth in the last 10 games, had its share of ugliness. Being outrebounded by Portland 60-35 was ugly. Shooting 38.4 percent and 26.7 percent from 3-point range (8 of 30) was hardly a thing of beauty.

But perhaps it is a measure of where the Grizzlies are that they were searching for positives – and finding some – after losing 100-92 to the Trail Blazers Monday night at FedExForum.

“Our effort tonight put us in position to win the game,” said forward Chandler Parsons, who had six points and three assists. “We competed better. After the Houston game (last Saturday) we all had a disgusting taste in our mouths. (But) we gotta take our focus off missing shots, the referee. We have no time to feel bad for ourselves.

“I thought we made some steps forward. But at the end of the day we still lost to a team that’s trying to make the playoffs ahead of us, so you can’t be too happy. But the worst thing we can do is splinter in different directions and start focusing on yourself and what’s going bad for you. We gotta stick together.”

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, right, and guard Mario Chalmers talk on the court during a break in play in the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers Monday, Nov. 20, in Memphis. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Against the Rockets, the Grizzlies trailed by as many as 24 points before falling 105-83. Afterward, center Marc Gasol took the team to task, saying in part, “I don’t think guys are being selfish intentionally. But they’re thinking too much, or they’re allowed to think too much on themselves rather than on the team …

“Defense doesn’t work if it’s four out of five guys, or three, or most of the time, it’s two … sometimes it’s give guys and we get stops for 10-12 minutes. But it’s not enough. There’s no consistency. You might win games every now and then. You might even stay at .500.

“But that’s not what we’ve built here for 10 years. That’s not what we’ve stood for. To me, it’s embarrassing and it’s sad.”

Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said before Monday’s game that he believed Gasol’s assessment of the problems with the team were “overstated. But if that is how he feels, that is how he feels,” the coach said.” Every team goes through it … this is not Marc’s first rodeo in a bad spot.”

Monday against Portland the Grizzlies were tied 80-80 with just over six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. But when guard CJ McCollum (24 points) hit a contested jumper with 35 seconds left the lead was six points and backcourt mate Damian Lillard (21 points) finished the scoring by hitting two free throws.

“They’ve got guys that can close the game,” Fizdale said. “CJ McCollum is serious business. He made a tough shot over Tyreke (Evans) to really put the dagger in us.”

Fizdale, however, did find some encouraging signs from the game even though, as he put it, Portland “crushed us on the glass.”

“Like I just told our team, when you’re in a rut, it’s tough,” Fizdale said. “But that game looks a little bit more like us. You’ve got to look for small victories in this stuff when you’re crawling through the mud.”

Obviously, playing without starting point guard Mike Conley – who was playing essentially on one foot before the Achilles injury sidelined him – has made the whole challenge greater. Mario Chalmers, who started in his place Monday, scored 21 points with six assists and six rebounds, Evans again had a 20-point night off the bench, and Gasol finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

And it wasn’t nearly enough. The five bench players other than Evans played almost a combined 50 minutes and scored a collective 11 points with five rebounds and no assists. Guard Ben McLemore had eight of those points.

Bench players not named Tyreke Evans went 4 of 18 from the field and 1 of 10 from long distance.

“We (the veterans) have to show them,” Gasol said. “Me, as the leader of the team, I’ve got to show them the way … being in their ear when things go bad for them, letting them know you have their back no matter what the outcome might be.

“When you’re making shots, you think you’re really pretty and everybody loves you. When you’re not making shots, you’re in the doghouse, not playing much or getting pulled out of the game really quick. You think you’re really ugly, and nobody loves you.

“You’re not that pretty,” Gasol said, “you’re not that ugly. You just want to have a balance and know that your teammates have your back …. I’m always going to have their back.”

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