Portland Trailblazers center Just Kurkic (33) loses control of the ball as Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) and forward JaMychal Green (0) look on in the first quarter at FedExForum.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Searching For Answers

The Portland Trial Blazers grabbed 25 more rebounds than the Memphis Grizzlies in route to a 100-92 win over the home team on Monday Night.

MEMPHIS | David Fizdale is searching for answers, perhaps to questions that might not have an answer.

 

Playing without Mike Conley, Brandan Wright, Wayne Seldon, and Ivan Rabb while also relying on Ben McLemore and JaMychal Green — two players that weren't even with the team during training camp, the Grizzlies have struggled to find effective rotations, and Monday night was no exception as the Grizzlies (7-9) fell 100-92 to the Portland Trail Blazers (10-7) at FedExForum.

 

“We’re working on it — I can tell you that much,” Fizdale said of trying to find answers. “I don’t know. We got some great looks there, and the ball just wasn’t going for a lot of this stuff. And, it’s tough when you miss the wide open ones, multiple wide open ones. It takes the air out of the building a little bit. I thought we got some great shots there that we normally make, and we didn’t make them.”

 

Given the rotations, the Grizzlies simply don’t have much margin for error, and tonight the Grizzlies failed on the glass and to hit open looks, results that can’t happen when you’re already short handed. 

 

By the end of the night, the Blazers would secure 60 rebounds while the Grizzlies got on 35. Additionally, the Blazer got 15 offensive boards, while the Grizzlies got only five.

 

“(Portland) crushed us on the glass,” Fizdale said. “Crushed us on the glass. We finally got our defense activated again, and I felt like we were back somewhat looking like our early season self, but the glass just really killed us.”  

 

All of the above states the obvious, that the Grizzlies are limited from a rotation perspective given injuries and new lineups. 

 

“There’s a lot of stuff throwing (chemistry) off,” Fizdale said. “First, obviously with no Mike Conley, the chemistry is thrown. Then you’re trying to inject Ben (McLemore) and (JaMychal Green), both who have not played in training camp — and during all of this, I’ve had to obviously get away from the bench that was playing exceptional. We were third in the league off he bench for a long time there until we started getting hit with this stuff.”

 

“It’s a challenge. This is my challenge. Welcome to coaching, David Fizdale, because this is definitely a challenge, and I’m going to crack it. I’m going to keep pushing for it. I’m going to keep uplifting these guys, keep leading them, keep pointing out where we can get better, and keep pushing us to connect.”

 

In fairness to Fizdale, he’s saying all of the right things. He’s saying what you would like to hear the head coach say with his team in a rut. However, it’s quite possible that the only real solution to this challenge is getting Conley’s achilles healthy again.

 

David Fizdale is noticeably trying to find a solution to the challenge. He has tried small lineups. He has tried big lineups, and he has tried combinations of both. Nothing has worked to this point, a result that should be expected to an extent, given the injuries. 

 

The Grizzlies are in a rut, but in fairness so would almost every other team in the NBA that is trying to play without its franchise point guard. The reality might be that there is no answer beyond getting Conley back healthy.

 

Until that time, the odds are more than likely that the Grizzlies will continue to stay in this rut. It’s a players’ league, and at this point, the Grizzlies don’t have enough healthy good players. 

 

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