As an organization, The Memphis Grizzlies have successfully inoculated most of their fans from expecting wins. Want them? Of course. Will we take them? Absolutely. But expect them – especially when they’re up against a Western Conference Finals contender in the Houston Rockets? Not so much.
So the final outcome of Monday night’s game wasn’t exactly surprising – Houston 107, Memphis 100. The Grizzlies played well enough in the first half – as they usually do lately – to keep it interesting. Then, as veteran teams and veteran coaches do, Houston made adjustments at the half, and built a large lead that they coasted to the finish line.
”Tough third quarter, in a sense, for both teams,” Memphis first-year coach Taylor Jenkins said, ”but I really liked the way our guys competed in the second half.”
That said, the Grizzlies were within striking distance late in the game, down 101-92 with just two minutes to go. That’s when James Harden, who seems determined to create another reason for Grizz fans to resent him every time he visits, literally took a swipe at Jae Crowder’s sensitive area. Not surprisingly, once he got up off his knees, Crowder took exception.
Surprisingly, however, Crowder also got called for a foul, and was ejected from the game after a single technical foul. Fans were mystified and outraged – especially since Crowder had the shooting touch that could have helped the Grizzlies maybe steal a win.
Meanwhile, with Russell Westbrook resting, Harden hung 44 points on the Grizzlies, adding 10 rebounds and six assists.
So what can we take away from this latest loss in a season we expect to be full of them? Well, with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Grayson Allen sitting out with injuries, Ja Morant led Memphis with 23 points and six assists. Dillon Brooks scored 17 points. Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Morant was 10 of 16 from the field.
But it is encouraging that so far, the most glaring weakness the Grizzlies have is simply inexperience – “knowing how to win.” Watch them and you’ll see them playing hard, playing together and giving veteran teams a run for their money. If they can figure out how to WIN sooner than later, this rebuild may not take so long after all.
TSD correspondent Terrisa C. Mark was in the Grizzlies locker room to get the following clips. Check out Morant, Brooks and more . . .
Next up for the Grizzlies: Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves come to FedExForum on Wednesday, before the Grizzlies hit the road. Keep it here for the latest . . .