Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies entered their western road trip on a good step. They had won six straight games, including road wins against the Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Hornets. Gasol had been averaging 19.8 points on 54.2 percent shooting in the five games before the trip. One might have thought the Grizzlies could sweep this road trip.
However, the Grizzlies couldn't overcome their road struggles. The Grizzlies beat the Golden State Warriors, and then dropped the next three games out west to fall to 10-9. Losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers weren't too bad since out-performing strong big men like LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin is hard without Zach Randolph.
Scoring didn't come easy for the Grizzlies in the four-game swing. Memphis averaged 87.5 points per game on the road trip. They hit 39.3 percent from the field on the trip, and shot worse than 38 percent as a team in each of the three losses.
Turnovers were a problem against the Clippers and Suns, as the Grizzlies committed 17 in both games.
Marreese Speights was a non-factor on the road trip. He averaged 6.5 points per game on 36 percent from the field to go with 4.8 rebounds per game. Speights played only 16.5 minutes per game.
The Grizzlies continued their road struggles. They're now 4-7 on the road this season and average 85.6 points per game on the road, 20.2 points less than their home average.
This isn't much different from last season when the Grizzlies went 16-25 on the road.
Marc Gasol Was Flat on the Road Trip
Gasol was off his game as he often is on the road. He averaged 14.5 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the field. While he did put up double-doubles in three of the four games, Gasol only hit 50 percent or better from the field on Saturday against the Suns.
Gasol practically disappeared against the Trail Blazers. He scored only seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, while contributing four rebounds and three assists.
While on the road, Gasol is a 51.8 percent shooter, five percent worse than he shoots at home. However, his shooting was uncharacteristically poor for the Spaniard.
The road trip demonstrated how much the Grizzlies depend upon Gasol up front with Randolph absent. When Gasol is off, the Grizzlies desperately need someone to pick up the slack. However, Speights couldn't come through on the road trip.
The other frontcourt players can't make up for the loss since Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham don't shoot much and Hamed Haddadi rarely plays more than 10 minutes.
Conclusion: This Week Presents a Big Test for the Grizzlies
The Grizzlies looked like they were making it without Randolph just fine before the western road trip. Now, they need a good performance in one of the next two games to make it out of January with a winning record.
By falling into this week on a three-game losing streak, the Grizzlies didn't do themselves any favors. Each of the four Grizzlies games this week are against teams with winning records. Memphis will host the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets before going on the road to face the feisty Atlanta Hawks and Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Grizzlies need to brush off their road slump in a hurry. Otherwise, they could be counting heavily on the home court to compete.