After their fourth straight loss, the Grizzlies’ locker room was about what you’d expect: quiet, distant, tense and full of frustration. From the franchise player questioning the late-game strategy, to veterans yearning for the team to “get back to where they were,” the Grizzlies are clearly in a hard spot.
“We’ve got to lock in at the end of the game,” said forward Rudy Gay after Memphis’ 100-99 loss to the Blazers on Tuesday. “Our end-of-the-game strategy is terrible. We won’t focus on defense. We’ll relax. We’re spoiled because we think Z-Bo is going to get every rebound like today. That was tough. … Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Sounds like a polite way of saying, “Give me the ball.” But whatever.
Gay was referring to the Grizzlies’ attempt at a game-tying possession with 41 seconds left. Out of a timeout, the ball was in OJ Mayo’s hands before Portland’s Andre Miller stripped it and sank a 10-footer on the other end to extend the Blazers’ lead to two possessions with 21 seconds left.
Mike Conley missed a jumper on the ensuing possession. Gay and Conley each hit inconsequential 3-pointers in the waning seconds as Portland — playing without its star, Brandon Roy — escaped FedExForum with a win.
Wesley Matthews, who started for Roy, finished with a career-high 30 points, including 22 in the first half, while Miller had 19 points and nine assists. Rudy Gay led Grizzlies scorers with 20 points, while Zach Randolph finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Marc Gasol, limited early with foul trouble, had just nine points and four boards in 25:51.
“It’s not as bad as it looks, but we have to win these games,” Gasol said. “We will — I know we will — but it just breaks your heart to lose them.”
The aforementioned Matthews was straight lighting the Grizzlies up in the first half. He couldn’t miss from 3-point range (5-of-10 for the game) and was running around screens and along the baseline like he was invisible. In the second quarter, though, instead of putting in the man brought in to be a “defensive stopper” (Tony Allen), Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins went with offensive free spirit Sam Young.
A bit of a perplexing lineup move, sure — especially when a guy who wasn’t even drafted is making your defense look silly — but perhaps Hollins saw something others didn’t?
“Because I wanted to,” Hollins said.
“The rotation has nothing to do with where we are,” Hollins said a few minutes later.
Suppose we can let him keep thinking that.
‘Watch from my seat’
Hollins, never hesitant to defend himself and grossly overcompensate, had this to say after fielding a question about strategy and rotations.
“You guys (the media) sit there and watch it from different perspectives,” Hollins said. “I’d like for you to watch from my seat once in a while.”
Rudy Gay wants to fight through screens like a husband trying to help his wife try on clothes during football. #dontwalkrun — @HPbasketball
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.
Written by Brandon Harris, Photo by JD Meredith.