Most of what the Grizzlies displayed in their 28-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday vanished when the teams met in the second game of a back-to-back on Friday in Memphis.
The most glaring area of regression came defensively, with the Grizzlies showing little of the tenacity that fueled their success the previous game. In their 119-99 loss to the Clippers, the Grizzlies allowed Los Angeles to shoot 55 percent, and for a team seeking a playoff berth following a three-season hiatus, consistency remains the buzzword for advancing that goal.
The Grizzlies will open the final week of the first half on Sunday against the host Houston Rockets. Memphis has dropped three of four games, with their last six losses coming by double digits.
“You’ve got to have consistency night in and night out, especially when you beat a team like we did last night,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I thought defensively our urgency wasn’t really there. We had that (Thursday) night, especially defending the 3-point line, especially the corners. We struggled with that. Our rotations weren’t where they needed to be.
“Our defense was average. It wasn’t at the level (it needed to be), so the learning lesson is you’ve got to raise your level and your defense has got to be consistent night in and night out, especially when you beat a team like we did the way we did (Thursday) night.”
The Rockets’ struggles are more protracted. Houston suffered its 10th consecutive loss on Friday, falling to the Toronto Raptors 122-111 to match the Cleveland Cavaliers for the longest losing skid in the league this season.
Against Toronto, the Rockets missed 31 of 47 3-pointers, falling in line with their 30th-ranked shooting percentage from deep. The ongoing woes have left Houston searching for solutions.
“The most important thing for us is to keep teaching,” Rockets guard John Wall said. “We’re teaching as much as we can to help guys without that many practices. It’s a lot of young guys, a couple of veterans, and we’re all learning on the fly to play with each other.
“The most important thing we can do is go out there and play hard and compete. That’s the easiest thing we can do, missing or making shots.”
The Rockets can’t afford to relent to the doldrums. Their season has collapsed around them, but with their final three games of the first half at home, an opportunity exists to build positive momentum heading into the break.
“Our job is to keep going. Our job is to keep pushing this team,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “Our job is to make the adjustments that are necessary Our job is to lead and not be down and not be the one to make it even worse. I’ve got to be the steady one, the rock. And we will turn it around. That’s how we’ll do it.”
–Field Level Media