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Insider Insights: Grizzlies Unable To Overcome Magic’s Three-Point Salvo

Orlando buried Memphis under 22 made threes, leading to an ugly loss in the Magic Kingdom.
By Luke Hatmaker - March 31, 2024, 9:17 am - 0 comments

As we’re barreling towards the conclusion of NBA’s season I’m not expecting wins. At least not anymore. Those times are gone.

That’s right, the tank is in full effect it would seem. I’m not sure how else to describe last night’s loss in Orlando… Not when you’re sitting in a 20 point hole in the first quarter. That’s going to be hard for any team to overcome.

Let alone a team that is down some—down several I guess—of their guys. Still. And that’s without even considering that the other team has stuff to play for. And by ‘stuff’ I mean the post-season.

It’s unfortunate… But right now the Grizzlies and the Magic are on two very different trajectories. One team—Orlando—have the playoffs in their sights. The other…

Well Memphis needs to be working on scouting for the draft. That’s what’s in their immediate future. Were there positives from last night’s game?

Sure I guess. But not a ton. Not to be a “Debbie Downer” but last night was an ugly game. Here are two things I liked—plus one thing I didn’t—from the loss in Orlando.

2 Things I Liked…

  • Brandon Clarke is integrating himself fine

It’s been the definition of a small sample size… But through two games it’s been such a delight seeing Brandon Clarke hooping again. And to his credit he seems to be integrating himself fine.

BC’s first game back against the Lakers felt like exactly that—a first game back. 6 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, and 1 STL… Not too bad right? How about last night?

Last night it seemed like Clarke took another forward step in his play. Which is what you want to see out of a guy returning to action right? Increments of positive development? That’s what I hope for.

And that’s what we got. Last night BC put up the following… 13 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, and 1 BLK in 19:41 minutes of action. As I said—what you want to see. Incremental positive development.

And when you throw in his shooting? The guy was 6 of 9 from the field in his second game back… It’s all chalking up as wins for the Grizzlies.

Clarke was—and remains—a huge part of Memphis’ plans moving forward. His return is key to what this team can do. Through two games back he’s proving to be one of the standouts. And as the Grizzlies fall further in the tank?

These types of performances will go a long way.

  • Jordan Goodwin continues shoring up the backup PG spot

One spot that seemed to be an area of concern to begin the season for the Grizzlies? The backup point guard spot. With the exodus of Tyus Jones to the Wizards, there remained a glaring hole on the roster.

Memphis attempted to fill it with Derrick Rose. But due to a myriad of factors—age, health—that’s not worked out. He’s appeared in only 24 games this season… His lowest game total since 2020.

That’s left Memphis in a bind in times throughout the season.

Which makes it funny to me is that the team’s stumbled into not one… But two viable options at the position. And even funnier? The fact that each of the dudes are on two-way contracts.

And which of these two-way point guards stepped up last night? And in a big way too? It was Jordan Goodwin. And the Grizzlies needed every bit of him to keep them afloat in the game.

Goodwin had the lone double double for the squad last night, posting the following… 16 PTS, 11 REB, 3 AST, and 2 STL. He did so while making 4 of his 6 shots from beyond the arc. That was in almost 27 minutes (26:39) off the bench.

Again, Goodwin is on two-way contract.

There’s not much else I can think that I would want out of a guy on one of those. Sure, I’d take double digit assists but hell you can’t have it all right?

Look when you consider the hole on the roster—now glaring—with all the injuries that’ve piled up? Who backups Ja is a big topic of conversation.

Between Goodwin—and Scotty Pippen Jr.—Memphis has shored up the spot in the perfect way. And with them each on two-ways? It’s something we can look forward to next season too… And that’s something I’m a big fan of.

…And 1 Thing I Didn’t…

  • Plus/minus isn’t everything but still…

I get it. It’s plus/minus. That may or may not be a good indicator of what is or isn’t working for teams.

Sometimes that positive number makes sense. A player plays well, their team wins, they have a good offensive and defensive game, etc… In turn, negative numbers can sometimes be indicative of trash performances.

On the flip side, the opposite can also be true. Sometimes you see a negative plus/minus and think to yourself… “That makes zero sense, so-and-so played great last night, blah blah blah.” I get it.

But last night? Last night—in Memphis’ case—was the former. And not in a good way. Of the ten guys that had minutes, nine of them had a negative plus/minus. And of that nine? Eight of them were double digit negatives.

Jaren Jackson Jr.? -34. GG Jackson II? -26. Luke Kennard? -23. Jake LaRavia? -22. Pippen Jr.? -12. Those were the starters. How bout the bench? You’ve got Goodwin’s -13 and BC’s -6. Lamar Stevens was a -14 and Maozinha Pereira a -12.

The lone positive? Zavier Simpson with a 12. Who played less than nine minutes and signed with the team yesterday.

You hate to see the box score filled with so many negatives. Regardless of how you feel about the stat. My hope is we can find ways to change that, even if tanking is the goal. Otherwise? The rest of the season may be an ugly watch.

Photo Credit: (Kevin Kolczynski/AP Photo)


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