A- Lowry...Gets my Game Ball (surprise, surprise)...Scored a career high 19 points with impressive drives and lots of free throw attempts, had 6 assists, played his usual solid defense, dove for loose balls, was out of control at times and had a ton of turnovers...
A- Darko...I was happy with Darko tonight. He got into foul trouble, but still was able to play solid interior defense. He only has one move in the post, but his great position he gets on the low block is going to make him a viable offensive weapon this year...
B- Pau...Pau's stats don't look bad, but he didn't really make his presence known much this game. I think we need more from Pau offensively...
B- Miller...Even when Miller isn't on fire, he is solid at rebounding and passing. And at this point, he is one of our top perimeter defenders...sigh...
B- Damon...If I expected him to play better, he probably wouldn't have gotten in the B range...
C Casey...We don't pay him to play defense. He was 3 for 8 from beyond the arc. Ugh...
C Hak...only played 4 minutes. Made one pass and one good defensive play...
C Stro...only played 11 minutes, got called on 4 fouls, otherwise it was stro being stro...
D Gay...One of the more telling things about Rudy's stat line tonight is that he got 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks. The bogus offensive fouls really hurt him. He needs to be more aggressive attacking the rim and totally remove the step back jumper from his offensive options...
D Navarro...We don't pay him to play defense. He was 1 for 6 from beyond the arc. Double Ugh. JC's introduction into the NBA has been rocky so far, to say the least...
F Andre Brown...Can we get a Wide Receiver coach in here to work on his hands?
Something You May Have Not Caught:
At some point in the 2nd half, Rudy was put in to guard the former Hanson Brother, Little Mike Dunleavy. Rudy quickly lost track of the Dunleavy, allowing him to stand directly under the basket alone and get an easy layup. On the way down the court, Iavaroni engaged Rudy, motioned towards the bench, and said something similar to this to him:
Would you rather sit on the bench?
Pick and Roll Mess:
In my humble opinion, we have a mess with our pick and roll situation. Particularly the way we defend the pick and roll. With the exception of a handful of possessions, the Grizzlies have played the pick and roll passively. The guard goes under the ball screen. The bigman guarding the guy setting the screen, slacks off backwards in the lane. The result is an easy, uncontested jumper from either the guard or the bigman (on a pick and pop). So far, the Spurs and Pacers have knocked down the open jumpers, particularly the Pacers. I think we have to start playing the pick and roll more aggressively, by having the bigman hedge. My guess is that Iavaroni is trying to minimize fouls by instructing the passive approach or the personel is limiting the ability to play it aggressive. Whatever the reason, I don't think we can continue being that soft on pick and rolls. Likewise, we are not executing the pick and roll that effectively on offense. Tonight the Pacers were able to routinely hedge hard on the screen and greatly disrupt the offense. Either messing up the timing, or causing the PG to pick up his dribble, or causing a turnover.
Foul trouble again forced Iavaroni to empty the bench (everyone but Conley played). Every bigman got in the game in the 1st quarter. The most interesting news about the rotation was the abundance of small ball combinations. Miller played PF some tonight. Lowry and Damon again shared the backcourt.
Stat Line of the Night:
65% Field Goal Percentage
83% Free Throw Percentage
I think Zack did a good job reviewing the individual players (although a B- For Miller seems a little high and the B- for Gasol is unfair considering he put up 18 and 10 against Jermaine O'Neal). I will throw in some thoughts that I have had over the last day.
I wonder how beneficial Mike's time with Team USA has really been. It seems Mike is far more tentative than he was last season and that is not good for this team. I realize we are only 2 games into the season but I was hoping Mike would come back from the summer experience with a more aggressive attitude about scoring not less. Right now he seems to be playing the role that had him sitting at the end of the bench in the FIBA Americas tournament. Sure he is passing and rebounding well but he needs to stop being a last option and become the 2nd or even 1st option on offense. Stop defering to other players and start being aggressive in looking for his shot.
It seems that Iavaroni has a preference for 'his' players and that is hurting the tema somewhat. Tarence Kinsey and Brian Cardinal were inactive the last two games and both bring a stronger defensive presence to the game than either Casey Jacobsen, Juan Carlos Navarro or Andre Brown. One has to wonder how long these West acquisitions will remain inactive while the team's substitutes continue to get burned on defense. Again it is early in the season but it seems that Cardinal and Kinsey should be getting looks at least.
Iavaroni made a strong statement this summer and in the pre-season that defense was going to be something that needed to be improved on this team. Right now Miller, Navarro and Jacobsen are not providing any and when Rudy is off the court no one seems capable of stopping anyone on the perimeter outside of Kyle Lowry.