Rockets 107, Grizzlies 91: Five Boring Thoughts

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LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

The Grizzlies lost last night, shorthanded and unable to string together enough buckets to keep up at the end of the game. As a result they didn't secure the season series with the Houston Rockets, and they didn't capitalize on the momentum of their come-from-behind win over the Celtics on Sunday, and they didn't do anything to prove one way or another whether anything at all has turned around for them. There wasn't really that much going on in the game—it was called "the least interesting game I've ever attended and "had no intrigue or news value", and for the most part it was a pretty aggressively middle-of-the-road game.

But there's always something, isn't there? This isn't a fully-formed postgame roundup, but some things did happen in the game that might need to be written down somewhere, so here goes:

Five Thoughts

★ Jeff Green had a terrible first half, taking two bad shots and missing them both, generally looking out of sorts, and continuing to see how bad he can make his body language. Only this time, Dave Joerger benched him for the second half. Joerger said the benching wasn't "disciplinary," but... Green's body language the last few games, the way he interacts with his teammates off the court, in huddles, after plays, has been a little weird. If something's brewing with him, it may be even more beneficial for the Grizzlies to flip his expiring contract. He's just not worth taking some sort of hit to what little team chemistry there is this year.

★ Tony Allen continued his high-level play in the first 25 or so minutes he was on the court, but once he crossed the 30-minute mark (he played 32:27) the magic was gone, and he made some really inopportune turnovers. Sure, missing Mike Conley and Matt Barnes (out with a "left thumb contusion") meant Allen just straight-up had to play more. But playing him too long meant not making the most of how well he's been playing lately, by leaving him out there long enough to start being a net negative.

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

★ Elliot Williams didn't get into the game until it was a tight one in the final 8 minutes of the fourth quarter, and was completely cold, and took a bad shot that led to a Rockets three. He didn't play again until garbage time. So... I guess he's probably not going to stick. That's a tough spot in which to ask anyone to come into the game for the first time and contribute, but whatever. You know the rule: young player makes a mistake, that young player sits for a week. The Lionel Hollins Method for Crushing The Spirit Of A Young Basketball Player.

★ They played a lot of David Bowie before and during the game last night, but here's a line from a song they didn't play: "Hope is a cheap thing." The Grizzlies have played well lately, sure, but given the injury struggles and the general lack of production on the offensive end of the floor (even Zach Randolph, who has had some great games lately, only had 10 last night), they're still not out of the woods, and still probably headed for a 45-win season.

★ Marc Gasol started the game well, and then disappeared for most of it until returning in the fourth when the game got tight. That's the pattern this year: Gasol's basically trying to get his rest in-game since he's going to be playing 37-40 minutes no matter what. Given the Grizzlies' record, it's worked out more often than not this year, but it's not exactly conducive to a great third quarter start when your former-DPOY center isn't really moving much.

Pontification Maximus

LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski

I'm not really sure what else to say about last night's game other than this: it seemed worse than it was because it was so unexciting. it was a close game, tied at 83 with 7:30 left. But from then on out, the Grizzlies scored 8 points and the Rockets scored 24. That's in bold for a reason: that is bad.

The offense completely cratered when the Grizzlies' defense started warming up again. There are times when it feels like watching the 2011-12 lockout season Grizzlies, with Rudy Gay out there doing whatever and the defense locking people down, and the offense just running the same three sets and producing bad looks and bad shots for guys who can't consistently hit anything. Oh and also Z-Bo iso.

The difference is one of expectations. That team had just made the playoffs for the first time since the Pau years, Z-Bo was coming off an injury, and the future seemed bright. (You know, that was back when saying "Josh Selby" wasn't a grim joke.) Now, watching the same kind of team do the same thing, just older, it's hard to be as excited about. We've seen this script before. The poor-shooting athletic 3/4 can't get his stuff done, and it gums up the works for everybody else.

The other difference was that this year, Marc Gasol looks like he planned on playing himself into shape, and instead, he's just tired. That's happened before, too (see the 2013-14 season), but now it feels less like an accident and more like a recognition that this year wasn't going to amount to much anyway.

Whatever. Guys are hurt, even when they're not hurt, the team isn't playing very well, the injuries to Wright and Adams have made it hard for them to even attempt expanding what they can do (besides the "small ball" starting lineups, which is just as much about choosing who to match Z-Bo up against as it is trying to keep pace with the league), and nothing I see inspires much confidence that things are going to get better.

So... there can be exciting Tuesday night home games. Last night's didn't fit the bill. Frustration can only be so fun.


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