Memphis Grizzlies Failing to Score Baskets, Victories

Jordan GriesbeckContributor INovember 22, 2008

After a promising 3-3 start, the Memphis Grizzlies appear to be back to their old ways.

Following back-to-back losses to Dallas and Utah, the Grizz find themselves in familiar territory—the cellar of the Western Conference Southwest Standings—and are looking for ways to regain early-season vibes.

Most of the Grizzlies problems have come offensively. The Grizz have failed to take care of the basketball, and even when they do, they have a hard time scoring it.

In the last two games, the Grizzlies have averaged 17 turnovers and have shot just 42 percent from the floor. Shooting below 30 percent from behind the arc hasn't helped much either.

Much blame has been placed on the Grizzlies point guard play, and it is easy to see why. Effective offense starts with an effective point guard, and Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry have been unable to create anything.

They have failed to penetrate defenses and score or draw the foul, they have failed to kick the ball out to O.J. Mayo or Rudy Gay, and they have failed to give the Grizzlies any offensive spark at all.

When you have little to no outside shot to speak of, you must be able to make your teammates better or get to the basket, and Conley and Lowry have not done either.

It shows up in the stat column, where Gay and Mayo have both struggled down the stretch after a hot start. They combined to go 13-42 from the field against the Mavericks on Friday night, and the friendly confines of the FedEx Forum did little to improve their strokes on Saturday.

The Grizzlies are failing to move the ball effectively or safely. They rank 8th-worst in the league in turnovers per game, and are not getting the ball to open shooters. Giving the ball to a guarded Darrell Arthur on the perimeter with 5 seconds left on the shot clock will result in few successful possessions and even fewer victories.

If the current downward spiral continues, remember the 10th of November. That was the night the Grizzlies' ferocious 17-point second-half rally was negated by opportunistic shooting and questionable officiating in Phoenix. In their next game, the Grizzlies lost to the Bucks in overtime, and have never regained the energy and confidence they had early in the season.

If Memphis and Coach Marc Iavaroni does not find a way to take care of the basketball and allow Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo to carry this franchise and its future, the losing will only continue. Yes, it's early in the season and early in owner Michael Heisley's "three-year plan," but the Grizzlies need to turn it around to avoid a third straight year of 22-60 basketball.