Thursday, January 24, 2008

Memphis vs Orlando - Post Game Thoughts

Looks like I picked the right week to quit sniffing glue.

For those of you that haven't seen the movie 'Airplane' you don't know what you are missing. And you should have watched that instead of the Grizzlies game last night.

But that isn't what I meant by that comment. What I was implying was that I picked the right game not to attend. I was at my son's game instead and didn't see the game until late last night. What a stinker. The Grizzlies played unispired at best and down right intimidated as Orlando humiliated the Grizzlies in front of a sparse crowd last night.

Pau Gasol put up numbers (17 pts, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) but he looked more like a deer in the headlights than one of four players in the league averaging 20 and 10 in January. One paricular play stood out in my mind. Pau got an entry pass about 5 ft from the basket and turned to see who to pass the ball to despite no one covering him! Pau, we play a Phoenix style of offense. Can you imagine Amare Stoudamire looking to pass the ball that close to the basket with no one guarding him? I can't. That is when big players make thunderous dunks and get the crowd on their feet. Time to act like a man and start being aggressive. I realize Dwight Howard is in the game and that Gerald Wallace blocked one of your previous dunk attempts but you have to go to the hole. That play exemplified everything Pau-Haters dislike about Gasol and there is no defending it. Most of the night Orlando doubled Gasol whenever the ball came near him so he has to take advantage of the clear opportunities when they are there. And double teams don't justify the 5 turnovers Gasol had.

Mike Miller did nothing. I honestly was hoping his back was acting up because only taking 8 shots against Maurice Evans and Keith bogans is inexcusable. Of course, once our big men (see Gasol) decided they weren't going near Dwight Howard it enabled everyone else to play that much tighter on the perimeter. When Miller only takes 8 shots and turns the ball over 4 times that is pathetic.

The only players willing to challenge the Magic were Mike Conley and Rudy Gay. Rudy led the team in scoring with 20 pts and grabbed 8 baords but didn't have any steals. The entire Grizzlies team only had one steal and this was a Magic team who's starting PG didn't play. Conley exploited the Magic for 13 pts and 5 assists and most of his points came in the paint challenging Howard's power with his speed. The future sure looks bright with Conley at the point.

The Grizzlies don't play man on man defense well enough to win without creating turnovers. Orlando turned the ball over 6 times all night. Apparently the flat-footed effort was on both sides of the court last night. Orlando shot extremely well last night despite some decent on the ball defensive effort but those constant 3's balls falling really took the energy out of the team.

What really pissed me off however was the lack of energy to make a comeback in the 4th. The team scored 13 pts in the last quarter! Players are not supposed to quit like that in front of the home crowd. I don't care if the arena was empty the fans who were there deserved a better effort and the fans choosing to watch the Grizzlies instead of the Tigers deserved better as well. And there were fans at the game trying to cheer for the home team.
photo curtesy of Getty Pictures

The sad thing is that despite poor play from 2/3rds of their stars and a weak perimeter defensive effort Memphis wasn't out of the game until the fourth quarter. Or rather the end of the 3rd. With Memphis down 11 pts and with the ball in the last 20 seconds Memphis only had to hit a bucket and enter the 4th against a perimeter shooting team down less than 10. That is still winnable. Instead the Grizzlies turned the ball over and Orlando drained a 3 at the buzzer. Down 14 to start the fourth and game over. Adding injury to insult was Memphis' play to end the first half when Memphis had the ball but turned it over for a breakaway layup at the buzzer. Instead of being down 8 with a chance at only down 6 Memphis went to halftime down 10.

The bright signs defensively was that Memphis did contain Dwight Howard. He only had 16 pts and 1o boards and a lot of his points came from the line. Normally Howard doesn't shoot well from the free throw line but in two games against the Grizzlies he was 17-26. Well above his seasonal averages. Hedo Turkoglu was en fuego however and he single-handedly beat the Grizzlies. Rashard Lewis was decent but not spectacular. Miller's being outplayed and Gasol's being intimidated was the difference in the game.

One last player comment. After his awesome game starting for the Grizzlies Bobby Jones appears to not want to be signed for the rest of the season. His play has been more than just bad in the last two games. He looks dispirited. I don't know what is happening there but it is very peculiar to say the least.


Neon Leon said...

Good recap, Chip. I agree with your assessment across the board. Rudy and Conley looked good, Darko did a great job defensively on Howard and actually looked a little better on offense. Everybody else stunk up the joint.

On a side note, regarding your Airplane! reference... Did anybody else (Airplane! fans, that is) at the MLK game catch the irony in having Bob Lanier on the court next to Roger Murdock, er, I mean Jabbar?

Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes...

the serbian swatter said...

I'm starting to think Iavaroni is a complete idiot. It seems like every game the Grizzlies are down by about 15 points by the start of the 4th quarter. So what does coach do? Take out Darko and put in Navarro. While individually there is no question that Navarro is a greater offensive threat, the problem is that without Pau AND Darko in the game, the Grizzlies' offense reverts to long-range jump shots, and any semblance of a defense evaporates.

It's pretty formulaic at this point. Offensively, Pau get the ball in the post, gets doubled, then kicks it out to a perimeter shooter, who either loses the ball or jacks up a three. Pick and rolls cease to exist and nobody every really gets open because nobody besides Darko can set a decent screen. Defensively, these very same perimeter shooters get killed. Opposing teams can easily drive or feed their post players for high percentage shots in the 4th quarter.

Hence, the end result is the Grizzlies winning about 1/3 of their games. Precisely the frequency in which at least one of our perimeter guys is unconscious from beyond the arc.

For as much crap as Darko gets, he does a lot of dirty work that shows up in other players’ stat lines. For instance, while Darko only got a single rebound last night, Dwight Howard only had 4 rebounds while the two of them were on the floor together. In the roughly 6 minutes that Dwight Howard was guarded by someone else, he recorded 6 rebounds. Darko simply did what very few NBA players even attempt, box out “The Beast”. His physical presence also benefits Miller, Gay, and Gasol's rebounding totals since Darko typically has the other team's best rebounder corralled away from the hoop.

Basically, the Grizzlies suck big time. The 4th quarter “run and gun” strategy isn’t working, and something needs to change. Darko showed great offensive promise prior to injuring his left thumb, and he is undoubtedly the best defender on the team. It seems irrational to give up on him now that he seems to be relatively healthy again. So stop taking him out of the game in the 4th quarter and see what happens. We can’t get much worse.

MemphisX said...

...and the hits keep on coming.

Trade Pau!!!

hptmatt said...

Leon, that's excellent.

"my dad says you never really try until the playoffs".

"listen,kid, I'm out there busting my BUTT every night-tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!".

"Shouldn't we turn on the landing lights?"

"NO! That's just what they'll be expecting us to do."

I gotta go get Jacobs to get me an update on everything that's happened up 'til now.

That game was lost b/c the Grizzlies, at Ivy's urging and direction, went into that game with a singular focus-to keep Howard from "going crazy" (Dave Joerger quote). If he had scored two instead of three on the plays where the Grizzlies doubled him and left 3-pters open, we'd have been closer in that game...but Jeez, when a team goes 18-33, yer likely gonna lose.

Must mention the fact that we outrebounded them, however, and I believe that Pranica said last night that we're 16th in the league in rebounding-now THAT is an improvement I like.

MemphisX said...

16th in rebounding?

More like 24th when adjusted for pace.

15th in offensive efficiency
28th in defensive efficiency
29th in turnovers

We suck!!!

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