Atlanta grinds the Grizzlies as Howard Sits… 3 Lessons

Ronald Agers —  March 13, 2017

This game symbolized the best of times and the worst of times. Atlanta for right now is enjoying the best of times these days and Memphis is stuck in the worst. The Hawks jumped out to an early lead in the early frame and it was all she wrote from there. The Atlanta Hawks went to Tennessee and turned the Grindhouse into a vacation spot dominating the Memphis Grizzlies 107-90. The struggling Hawks defense of late, who was without Dwight Howard,  being held out for rest held Memphis to 37.8% from the field. For a complete recap of the game, check out Graham Chapple on HawksHoop.com. As always, it is a thorough and informative read.

The Hawks were led by, you guessed it, Dennis Schroder. But not on the offensive end; on this night it was on the defensive end. Schroder locked in on Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and made him work all night long. The rest of his teammates followed his cues and dominated the game start to finish. It’s the start to my…

Three Lessons

Lesson number one: Oh, the Atlanta Hawks have a bench now?

Breaking news to HawksHoop! The Atlanta Hawks have bench scoring for a change. Even more amazing, a bench player led the team in scoring! Hawks rookie Taurean Prince led the team in scoring with 17 points. Not Dennis Schroder, not Paul Millsap, but Taurean Prince. Prince had set his career high by the end of the first quarter with 12 and went on knock down five of his six shots. Prince knocked down three of four three pointers, hit all of his four free throws, grabbed three rebounds, dropped two dimes, had a couple of steals and a block. Quite a mouthful huh? Jose Calderon scored 14 points in 19 minutes (this was a bad night for the Grizzlies folks!) to lead the consistent production from the bench all night. The is not the bench mob, but for one night it’s not Tim Hardaway Jr. show by himself.

What did Taurean Prince think of the team’s performance, via ESPN.com:

“I think that’s every team’s goal– to be on a roll going into the postseason,”…”That’s what we want to do. We want to keep this streak going.”

Lesson number two: The Memphis Grizzlies just stink.

Man, Justin Timberlake must be rolling over in his grave watching this Grizzlies team play (writer’s note: One, relax pop fans! Timberlake is not dead and two, he is part owner of Memphis). About a month ago it was a foregone conclusion that the Grizzlies were going to be the 6-seed going into the Western Conference playoffs. Since then, the Oklahoma City Thunder have passed them for the 6-seed and Memphis is in a freefall.

Let’s see what Head Coach David Fizdale has to say about the situation, via ESPN:

“We’re just bad right now,”…”We’ve looked at everything. Lineups, getting them out to warm up, everything you could think of. For some reason right now, we are not coming out of the locker room with any pop.”

Especially on the defensive end, which has been the Grizzlies calling card for years. During the Grizzlies losing streak which is now at five, the team has allowed all five opponents to score more than 100 points.

According to Tony Allen, Memphis’ best defensive player:

“We need to get back to trusting each other on the defensive end, and it starts from there…”

…and can continue with the scoring on the other end. Man, this team officially for the time being can’t shoot. the Grizz was shooting less than 45 percent coming into the game, shot 38 percent from the field against the Hawks. It gets worse, the Grizzlies could have built buildings all over Memphis with the bricks they put up from three point land. They shot 5-for-29 from the land of 3, which included two of their first 21 shots. Ugh!

Lesson three: The Atlanta Hawks are playing defense again?

Okay Hawks fans, I just mentioned the Griizzlies couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a baseball bat, but someone had to play defense right? I’m really seeing the coaching savvy of Mike Budenholzer over this past week. Dwight Howard sat this game out to rest. But this was the best time to do so. Memphis plays their offense through Marc Gasol and as game went on, it was painfully obvious that the Grizz struggles to space the floor.

The Hawks defensive scheme of packing the paint and allowing Memphis free reign to fire from the perimeter was classic. Every time Gasol touched the ball, two defenders rushed him and the other three played the passing lanes. Every time the Grizzlies missed their shots, the Hawks ran the other way.

Those were my three lessons… now learn from this!

Memphis Grizzlies’ guard/forward Chandler Parsons was shut down for the season recently. Remember when Dwight Howard practically begged the Rockets to get him when he was in Houston? Well things didn’t work out in Houston and it has been basically downhill ever since in Memphis.

I’m a basketball fan first and we all should send well wishes to Parsons. He is being shut down for his knee, but it may be more mental at this point. About a week before the team shut him down, he admitted that he “sucked right now”. This is not a good sign if you are a basketball player. 80-percent of being a great player is confidence and Chandler has absolutely none right. This is a good ball player here folks. He’s just going through a rough patch. Let’s all hope that he gets healthy and gets back to the court real soon.

Ronald Agers

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