The Memphis Grizzlies took the court once again on Sunday afternoon to do battle with the Toronto Raptors. And once again, the Grizzlies put together an incredibly frustrating and sloppy performance leading to a 108-99 loss.

Sunday’s game was originally supposed to be the first game in a home-and-home, two-game set between the two teams. It was a highly anticipated matchup for Grizzlies fans because it would have been Marc Gasol’s first game against his former team in the Fed Ex Forum, an arena in which Gasol played his first 11 seasons in the NBA.

But like every other plan in 2020, it will have to wait for at least another year.

The Grizzlies opened the game with a tenacious attitude on the defensive end, but could not put the ball in the basket. It was another shaky first half of basketball for Dillon Brooks. Brooks shot 3-of-12 from the floor in the first half totaling six points.

Brooks’ 12 shot attempts were not only a game-high in the first 24 minutes, but his poor shot selection and reluctance to give the ball up were major contributing factors to why the Memphis offense couldn’t find a rhythm. Ja Morant (10), Jonas Valančiūnas (1), and Brandon Clarke (4) had three more attempts combined than the shot-happy shooting guard.

After witnessing this same scenario play out over-and-over again for the Grizzlies, head coach Taylor Jenkins must be held accountable. Whether it is a conversation that needs to be had, putting Brooks in the second unit, or benching him for an extended period of time, Jenkins has delayed disciplining Brooks in any form or fashion for far too long. And it is killing any chance the Grizzlies have of performing well on the offensive end.

After taking a 60-54 lead into halftime, the Raptors put their foot on the gas in the third quarter, building a lead of 18 points. The Grizzlies did make a run late in the fourth quarter behind a 19-4 spurt, slicing Toronto’s lead to 95-92 with a hair over three minutes to play.

The defending NBA champs used experience and leaned on last season’s Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam, to deliver the finishing blows down the stretch. Siakam delivered two clutch three-pointers to create enough separation for the Raptors to coast to their 50th win of the season and clinch the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference.

Brooks led the Grizz in scoring with 25 points (11-26) although he had the upper hand by taking seven more shots than the next closest player. Grayson Allen continues his impressive stint in the bubble with 20 points, leading a strong outing from the Grizzlies’ bench, which was only outscored 50-49 by the starters.

Morant finished with a double-double, dropping 17 points with 10 assists. Clarke collected 16 points off the bench while pulling down nine rebounds. Former Raptor Valančiūnas was nowhere to be found all game long for Memphis. Valančiūnas attempted only two shots and was shut out in the scoring department although he hauled in 10 boards.

The loss now puts the Grizz at 1-5 in Orlando with their final two games coming against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the NBA’s best record. Yikes.

To make matters even worse, the San Antonio Spurs continue to close the gap on the Grizzlies after downing the New Orleans Pelicans and trimming the Grizzlies lead to just one game. But the Spurs aren’t the only team within striking distance of Memphis.

The Trail Blazers are also sitting one game behind the Grizzlies while the surprise team of the bubble, the Phoenix Suns, trail the Grizzlies by 1.5 games.

 

Featured image courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/USA Today Sports


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