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Grizzlies 108, Wolves 106: Sleep Walking in Memphis

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A disaster loss to a team with almost no players.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

H/T to Kyle Theige for the headline.

Tonight is another entry into one of our favorite Canis bits: Is this the worst loss since...?

The Wolves, facing an undermanned Memphis Grizzlies squad playing without Marc Gasol among many others, came out with no intent whatsoever, fell behind big, and despite making several runs, wound up losing 108-106. It was an absolute catastrophe of a loss, and reminds us just how far the Wolves are from being a seriously competitive basketball team.

It was a disaster from the start, with the Grizzlies running out to a 23-4 lead at one point, confusing the Wolves with their defensive looks, forcing turnovers, and finding the Wolves offering no resistance at the other end as Mike Conley sliced and diced them and Ivan Rabb and Jaren Jackson found plenty of space in the lane.

The Wolves slowly climbed back into the game behind Dario Saric, who came off the bench for 22 points, but the Grizzlies were able to push the lead back to double digits at halftime behind a flurry from Conley. The half ended when he stole an inbounds pass from Andrew Wiggins and canned a three, which was perfectly representative of the half.

The second half was much the same, with the Wolves making pushes to get close, but the Grizzlies always finding a response. Luol Deng was very active in the second half, and finished with 18 points and seven boards, and was responsible for the Wolves third quarter run, but yet again the Grizzlies held them off when it looked like the Wolves were going to take control.

One of the things the Grizzlies did effectively was employ a zone defense, something we don’t often see in the NBA. It clearly threw the Wolves off, as they could not break it down off the dribble, and the Grizz were in the passing lanes when double teams came in the post. The Wolves were also not able to shoot over the zone, with only Saric effective from deep (4-7) on the evening.

The Wolves made one final push behind Saric and Karl-Anthony Towns, coming back from down nine with just over three minutes left. They actually tied the game on two Towns free throws he earned from an offensive rebound of a Wiggins miss with 15 seconds left.

The closing sequence was rough. Mike Conley got open but missed a three, and in the ensuing scramble for the ball, a foul was whistled on Josh Okogie with .1 seconds left. It was probably a foul. It was also a very difficult call to swallow in the circumstances. But the Wolves got what they deserved—they had no business winning this game the way they played, and when Justin Holiday calmly made two free throws, the game was over.

This was the last game the Wolves will play before the trade deadline. While I don’t expect them to do anything, it is clear that this roster is simply not sufficient. Changes need to be made throughout the organization, and it’s up to Glen Taylor to understand where they are as a franchise.

NOTES

  • I rarely write about him anymore, because I’ve done so enough, but Andrew Wiggins...yikes. What a disaster. It’s long past time to move on.
  • Not to say he was the only goat tonight—Saric and Deng were really the only guys who played reasonably well.
  • The Grizzlies made 15 threes, which did not help matters.
  • Ivan Rabb was very impressive with 19 and 11. He looked pretty good the other night in Minneapolis as well IIRC.
  • Time to make some trades