The Commercial Appeal


Atlanta dominates sluggish Memphis

- By Ronald Tillery tillery@commercial­ 901-529-2353

The slumping Memphis Grizzlies look listless in another disappoint­ing loss, this time to the Hawks in Atlanta.

ATLANTA — The Grizzlies are losing games and insist that is all there is to their recent slide.

They refuse to get down on one another or come apart.

“We’re straight. We’re going to stay together. It’s just a tough time. We’ll get our chemistry,” forward Zach Randolph said after finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds Wednesday night in a 103-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The Griz fell to 1-3 since trading Rudy Gay and, to a man, preached that their transition will require patience. Putting out a better effort would have helped against the Hawks.

Memphis lost to Atlanta for the 11th time in the last 13 meetings, and this one wasn’t as competitiv­e as the final score might suggest. The Hawks led by as many as 23 points and pounced on the lackluster Grizzlies.

Atlanta chased down loose balls, made hard cuts in the lane for layups and raced for high-percentage shots off fast breaks. Memphis’ defense didn’t show up as advertised and put up very little resistance.

“It seemed like we didn’t have no emotion in the game,” Griz guard Tony Allen said. “There was not grittiness to it. Once they made plays, we put our heads down. We didn’t have that mindset to seek and destroy. … I don’t know why we’re not fighting. But it all starts on the defensive end. And we can’t have distractio­ns in our locker room. We’ve got to stay together.”

The Grizzlies’ second straight loss certainly appeared to be more about energy and execution rather than all of the sudden angst about offensive sets and lineup rotations.

Memphis routinely made mis- takes defending Atlanta in pickand-rolls and failed to run back on fast breaks. The Griz’s 10-point halftime deficit quickly ballooned after the Hawks began the second half on an 11-0 run. Randolph gave the Griz their first basket midway through the third quarter, and coach Lionel Hollins made a wholesale substituti­on shortly after that.

He found better effort with the second unit. The Griz starters reentered early in the fourth quarter and began making shots. They cut the deficit to nine with 1:45 left, but the Griz couldn’t string together enough stops.

Asked about life without Gay, Hollins said no one is talking about the former Grizzly.

“What this team is trying to do is be a good team with the guys we have,” Hollins said.

Griz center Marc Gasol seconded that sentiment.

“If you’re looking for an excuse,


you can find it,” he said. “But we just have to stay together and fight. We gave effort once or twice, but, on the road, you have to give it three or four times to win. And if you want to beat the Hawks.” benefited from a pair of double- doubles by Al Horford (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Josh Smith (19 points, 11 rebounds). Teague caused the Griz problems early and often with his dribble penetratio­n and by pushing the ball at every turn.

“He got off to a really good start in that first half, which really set the tone for the game,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said about Teague. “You could see Memphis was laboring a little bit to get up and down. We were trying to put an emphasis on really pushing the basketball.”




Allen and Gasol stood on opposite sides of the locker room saying the same things. They lamented the fact that the Hawks beat the Griz at their own game.

“They outworked us from 1-15,” Allen said.

Gasol added: “That’s what makes (the loss) hurt even more.”


When the going got rough in the second half, Hollins turned to a lineup that had Bayless playing with rookie Tony Wroten, Darrell Arthur, Austin Daye and Ed Davis. That group didn’t slice the Grizzlies’ deficit by a large margin, but it didn’t allow the game to get out of hand, either.

10: 3-pointers for the Hawks.

28: Teams’ combined assists on 38 field goals.

46: Atlanta’s rebounds, compared with Memphis’ 38.


Memphis (30-18) fell to fifth place in the Western Conference playoff standings behind idle Denver (31-18), which now occupies the fourth spot. Atlanta (27-21) sits sixth in the East, two games behind fourth-place Chicago.


Grizzlies vs. Warriors, Friday, 7 p.m.: Both teams have lost two straight and will to try avoid falling too far behind a hot Denver team for the fourth seed.

 ?? JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Hawks forward Josh Smith, who scored 19 points, gets past Memphis forward Zach Randolph in the first half Wednesday in Atlanta.
JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS Hawks forward Josh Smith, who scored 19 points, gets past Memphis forward Zach Randolph in the first half Wednesday in Atlanta.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States