A mother with a teething child on an airplane. A teenager watching his mother show his first prom date pictures of him as a child. People who are shown in first round elimination clips from America's Idol. Grizzlies fans at the FedEx Forum.
People who are embarrassed?
That is correct!
Through three quarters last night it was one of those games where you just wanted to run away and hide in shame. They happen to all teams in the NBA. After all the Lakers lost back to back home games against Charlotte and Memphis last week. Boston lost back to back games to Washington. San Antonio lost to Memp...well let's forget that one for the time being.
The point is that every team at some point of the season puts up a really poor effort and last night in front of their true and loyal fans (all 3,000 of them from the looks of the stands) the Grizzlies put on a truly lackluster effort. Atlanta shot 68% in the first half. Not from the line but from the field! They were perfect from the line. Memphis was shooting 40% at that time. Not from the field but from the free throw line! Memphis was actually shooting 50% from the field at halftime. Memphis trailed by 31 points at the end of the 3rd quarter...to the Hawks! The Hawks were shooting 69% at the end of the 3rd quarter. The Hawks were on fire and the Grizzlies were not making it difficult for the Hawks either.
How bad have things gotten that the Clippers and Hawks blew us out in back to back games?
If you only saw the final score, and judging from the crowd at the game most of you did only see the final score, it didn't look that bad. Don't be confused. The only reason the score wasn't worse was Mike Woodson, Atlanta's coach, felt sorry for the Grizzlies and put in his bench players.
That was nearly a mistake too. As if a spell had been lifted Memphis played some of their best basketball in the first half of the 4th quarter when they cut the 31 pt lead to a mere 12 points and Rudy Gay had an open look on a 3 pt shot to cut the lead to 9 with more than half the quarter remaining.
Rudy missed the shot of course and Memphis went the next 4 possessions without scoring while Atlanta milked the clock down on their possessions and the game was over but for 6:30 the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the worst teams in the NBA, outscored the Altanta Hawks, a playoff team as it currently stands, by an incredible 23 to 4 pts. Sure the Grizzlies only scored 4 points the rest of the way and by failing to score a 5th point deprived the fans of 10 free wings at Hooters, but for 6 and a half minutes they were the Durham Bulls with Crash Davis. They were the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan, No bull. They were really playing well.
It didn't last long but it salvaged what was a pretty sad effort overall. The best +/- ratio among our starters was Rudy Gay's -15 and he dominated the 4th quarter scoring 12 points by himself in the quarter. After Rudy only Hakim scored in double figures and that was 11 pts on 3-8 shooting. Mike Miller played 18 minutes and shot the ball 3 times, all from long range. Mike had as many turnovers as shot attempts in the game. Mike Conley was totally outclassed by Mike Bibby. Darko looked terribe dropping easy passes, missing hook shots when he could easily have dunked the ball and basically not trying to be a force inside against rookie Al Horford who was 4 inches shorter than him.
Ah but the bench, now those guys came to play. Kyle Lowry was 7-9 shooting and constantly forcing issues in the paint. Juan Carlos Navarro was 7-14 ahooting and forced the Hawks into numerous defensive breakdowns. His three more long balls raising his season total to 142, 16 short of the NBA rookie record with 8 games remaining. Javaris Crittenton got things moving with defense and rebounding but was a little out of control on offense a few times (okay completely out of control more than a few times) but at least he was giving some effort! The bench plus Rudy Gay salvaged an otherwise forgetable game. Of course it is the bench plus Rudy Gay that are probably the future of this franchise. Darko hasn't shown he is worth what we are paying him (which is a lot less than he demanded in June) and Mike Conley looks like a 19 yr old who isn't used to the grind of the NBA.
The good news is that the loss put us a game ahead of Minnesota for the all important 37 extra ping pong balls that the difference between 3rd and 4th makes in the lottery machine.
So the bench and the ping pong balls. That is the only nice things I can say about last nights game.