After losing their final two games of 2018, the Memphis Grizzlies were hoping the new year would bring a fresh start.
The new year did bring a strong start offensively, but the Grizzlies reverted back to their 2018 ways in the second half. A 12-point third quarter, offensive drought led to a 101-94 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
The loss was the Grizzlies third consecutive loss, and eighth in their last 10 games. And after the game, frustrations boiled over in the Grizzlies locker room, reportedly leading to an altercation between Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Memphis Grizzlies’ emotional team meeting after loss to Detroit tonight turned physical in an altercation between veterans Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi in locker room, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 3, 2019
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Bickerstaff usually emerges to speak with media no longer than 15 minutes after a game. It took Bickerstaff over 30 minutes to meet with the media on this day.
The team met in the locker room to discuss the state of the team. Bickerstaff wouldn’t reveal the specifics of the conversation but stated it was needed.
“It was a conversation that needed to be had and will stay between those of us that were in the locker room,” Bickerstaff said. “Guys are willing to address the issues and they’re willing to fix them. That’s the most important thing is that you have guys that do care about more than themselves and care about this team. They are trying to make it work. It’s just hard.”
By the time media were allowed into the locker room, only stalwarts Marc Gasol and Mike Conley remained. Without discussing details, Gasol echoed Bickerstaff’s remarks to media.
“We were openly sharing our thoughts and trying to fix the situation in getting back to being a really good basketball team together and doing the things we need to do to win games consistently,” Gasol said.
With Conley getting injured early, it handicapped the Grizzlies offensively in a very winnable game. Conley even felt that the result of the game and the meeting could’ve been avoided if he was healthy.
“Honesty, I think it would not have ever been needed had my shoulder not felt the way it did,” Conley said. “Losing causes a lot of frustration at the end of the day. If we had won tonight, nobody is talking.”
“All teams go through something like this at some point and time in the year,” Bickerstaff said. “If you have people who care, collectively, you’ll figure it out. We still believe our guys will figure it out.”
JJJ carrying the load:
Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 26 points and added 10 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies offense. It was one of the most efficient performances in his career so far. Jackson only attempted 11 shots and was also 2-of-2 from three-point range.
Jackson also did this while going against one of the best power forwards in the NBA. He was routinely battling Blake Griffin and didn’t seem overwhelmed from the start.
“He’s unbelievably talented,” Griffin said. “He’s so young and raw but so skilled and has a good feel. He’s going to be tough for a long, long time.”
Besides Jackson Jr., the Grizzlies didn’t get much offense from their starters. In the first half, Marc Gasol and Kyle Anderson scored 11 and 10 points respectively.
In the second half, Grizzlies starters not named Jackson combined to score six points.
A big part of the offenses struggles was the ineffectiveness of Mike Conley. For the first time since December 8, 2015, Conley was held scoreless.
Conley finished the game 0-of-8 with three rebounds and one assist in 28 minutes. He wasn’t available down the stretch in the fourth quarter after suffering a shoulder injury. Conley bumped shoulder’s with Pistons’ bulky center Andre Drummond in the first quarter.
“It was feeling really stiff, so it was concerning during the game,” Conley said. “All my strength is good, it just got to where the mobility wasn’t there.”
The Grizzlies will look to snap the losing streak on Friday night as they host the Brooklyn Nets.