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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Won and Oh! Grizzlies snap 11-game losing streak with nailbiter win over Timberwolves

For the first time in eight games at FedExForum — dating all the way back to an Oct. 28 win over the Houston Rockets — streamers rained down in celebration of a home win for the Memphis Grizzlies.

After stringing together a series of solid efforts, the Grizzlies finally broke through into the win column, breaking an 11-game losing streak with a thrilling 95-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

After the game, I asked both Coach J.B. Bickerstaff what it was like to get the monkey off their backs:

“There was a lot of energy in the locker room to say the least,” Bickerstaff said in his postgame remarks. “It’s been a while, you almost forgot what it felt like to win because guys want it so bad and they’re so emotionally invested. Every loss that kept popping up became a heavier and heavier weight. So, it’s awesome for those guys in that locker room. They’ve stuck with it, they’ve gone through tough times, but they’ve continued to believe in themselves and each other.

“Tonight was a great reward for them, but like we said in the locker room, this is not where we want to be,” he continued. “This is just one of many. We’re still building, we’re still digging, and we’ll continue to do that.”

It was nice to see the team breakthrough finally. During a whirlwind week in which David Fizdale was fired and Bickerstaff was installed, Memphis had dropped three straight games, two to San Antonio and a close one to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs.

However, attentive Grizz fans noticed that despite the losses, the team was playing better. And when I asked Marc Gasol what was the most important thing to build on from the Minnesota win, he cut me off with his answer.

“Effort,” he said. “I thought that for the last three games [before this one], let’s say the last 16 quarters including this one, we played really good for 14 quarters effort-wise. I thought that we really had that mindset of ‘The effort has to be there. That has got to be the consistent thing.’ And then when that is there, you can now start worrying about, ‘Okay, you show here and switch here.’

“You know, we can talk about Xs and Os, but you can’t really coach effort,” he continued. “The guys have got to bring it, and that’s on players to do it, and not have so many excuses like we always do. And I thought for the most part, almost 90 percent of those 16 quarters have been great.”

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