Grizzlies Fall in Home Opener

Call it an imperfect 10. Ten years in Memphis, ten straight losses in the season opener.

It is traditionally one of the best attended games of the season for the Grizzlies, and also traditionally one of the worst performances. Last night was no exception.

The Grizzlies, who entered the game without center Marc Gasol and lost All-Star forward Zach Randolph early in the game, were manhandled by Atlanta inside and out.

“This loss doesn’t determine whether we’re going to have a good season or a bad season,” Hollins said after the game. “It was just an opening game and we were hyped. I hate opening night because there’s just so many special things going on it just saps all the energy of the team, especially the team that’s playing at home.”

Strong offensive bench play carried over from the pre-season, with Darrell Arthur and Sam Young both having good offensive nights. Mike Conley led the Grizzlies in scoring with 23, followed by Rudy Gay who scored 21 with 10 rebounds.

Hollins commented after the game that despite the surprisingly strong offensive performances, he wasn’t going to be patting anyone on the back.

“We needed more people to play well and we needed to play better as a group.”

Dunk of the Game

Sam Young nailed two fast-break reverse jams, the first coming with 1:23 left in the first quarter and putting the Grizzlies within five of the Hawks. That moment was as close as the Grizzlies came to feeling a momentum shift.

Rudy Gay had a nice one of his signature extension dunks late in the game but it failed to spark the Grizzlies.

Best Performance

Has to go to Darrell Arthur, who scored a career-high 19 points and did his best on the glass against the Hawks. Arthur played a lot like he did in preseason, and is looking more and more like the player he was expected to become when he was drafted.

In an unsurprising move, the Grizzlies picked up an extension option on Arthur’s contract today.

Worst Performace

Hasheem Thabeet. Last year’s #2 overall pick looked like D-league material once again as he was consistently beaten off both sides of the glass by Hawks reserve Zaza Pachulia (Thabeet is listed as 7-3, Pachulia a generous 6-11).

Thabeet managed to up the frustration ante with a missed lay-up, rebound, missed-layup, rebound, missed lay-up from inches away progression in the second quarter that was such an abomination you could hear the entire crowd screaming a variation of “just dunk it!”

The Grizzlies must have seen something they liked though, today they picked up an extension option on Thabeet’s contract as well. So… there’s that.

Tweet of the Game

Lionel Hollins is known for his, well… let’s call it ‘attitude’ at press conferences. The ‘attitude’ is so legendary that twitter legend @fantasylionel has created the #thundastick so that he can dispense this ‘attitude’ all over the twitter sphere. After yesterday’s loss, members of the media were wondering who would get the first real-life #thundastick of the season. Would someone be gutsy enough to ask a direct question about how horrible Thabeet played? Who would grill Hollins about the strange rotation? Surely that person will get it. A lot of people looked at me. I’ve had my share.

Nope, the #thundastick was an unsolicited one slapped to one Geoff Calkins of the Commercial Appeal, who didn’t even speak during the press conference.

“Geoff I can’t wait to read your story tomorrow, you didn’t even ask me a question,” Hollins said as he exited the conference.

And so, as he should have, @fantasylionel made his epic tweet of the game.

FantasyLionel Hey, @geoff_calkins, how’d you like that #unsolicitedthundadtick to ya bowl cut dome, suckaaaaaaaaaaaa?!?!?!?!?!

Final Shots

The Grizzlies may not suck this season, but they definitely suck in openers. Al Kapone gave a pretty cool opening show, backed by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. MSO also played what will probably be one of the best National Anthem performances of the year.

The Grizzlies instituted a new, WWE style entrance door, which looked pretty cool, but only allowed out one player at a time. This produced some hilarious results when announcer Rick Trotter described Zach Randolph, only to have Darrell Arthur standing in front of the doors. A confused Arthur tried to turn around and and try to let Randolph come out, but the doors were shut. I’m sure they’ll get it next time.

Outside style (like the ones that blow up on fourth of July on television) fireworks were shot off inside the dome during the introductions. A haze remained over the top levels for the duration of the game.

Super Grizz made his return after a 6-year absence, inspiring the runner-up tweet of the game:

Jenkz901 Can super grizz sub in for thabeet?

The Grizzlies next game is on Friday in Dallas at 7:30.

Photos by Chase Gustafson. Follow @memphissport @douggillon @bharris901@chasingphoto and @cerrito for live Grizzlies tweets during games and check Memphissport.net after each game for a full recap from FedExForum.

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