When a coach finds himself at the helm of a team circling the drain, sometimes he tries to mix things up. You could call it grasping at straws. You might call it pressing the panic button. Whatever you call it, Doug Collins did it tonight when he started Andres Nocioni at power forward. The result: A humongous hole in the first quarter the team could never dig themselves out of. (game capsule).
Here's your rotation chart. If you need a pick-me-up, look at the second quarter and nothing else, especially when Collins finally put Battie in the game:
Granted, this was not Doug Collins' finest game as a head coach, but even if Collins hadn't spotted the Grizzlies a double-digit lead, it still would've been extremely tough to pull this game out with Lou Williams set on "team destruct" mode for the entire fourth quarter, Thad Young mostly ineffective, Evan Turner squandering his golden opportunity, Andre Iguodala going the entire second half without scoring a point and Jrue Holiday dominating a game, yet someone pushing his total field goal attempts over the past two games to 36, while his total free throw attempts remained static...at zero.
The defense was fine, which is an accomplishment considering their front court rotation. The offense was, well, pitiful, again. The free-throw discrepancy probably tells the story. 26 for Memphis, 8 for the Sixers. Jodie Meeks split a pair of freebies in the first quarter, no other starter even attempted one from the charity stripe for the entire game.
Any team without their starting PF/C combo is going to struggle. I guess the thing that makes this loss so disappointing is that you're left feeling like they should've won. Like even with one arm tied behind their back, this game was right there for the taking, even after the humiliating first quarter. Being a great defensive squad will do that for you. It'll keep you in games even when you shouldn't be. Of course, being a terrible offensive team (which is what they've been over this stretch) means you're going to lose a bunch of games you should've won. I'm not sure which bucket this loss falls into, maybe I'll be able to tell tomorrow. All I know is offensively-challenged teams rarely complete big comebacks. Collins' "lightning in a bottle" gamble tonight dug that hole right from the opening tip.
Player of The Game: Jrue. No contest.
Team Record: 20-13, and falling fast
Up Next: No rest for the weary. @ HOU, tomorrow night.
Jrue's Goal: Jrue had three turnovers, but there's really an asterisk next to that. The first turnover was on an inbound pass where Lavoy first turned his back as the ball was headed to him, then just stood there while Mike Conley picked it up and scored. The second came on a drive where Jrue was absolutely hammered first on the perimeter, then in the paint, by two different Grizzlies. No whistle = turnover. The third was on Jrue. The problem, even if you only count it as 1 turnover, that's still 1 more than the number of free throws he drew. (2/5 since inception).