The Memphis Grizzlies are losers of seven in a row and failed to reach 95 points in any of the last four contests. The Grizzlies will try to turn things around against another struggling squad when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
“It’s like you plug one hole and spring another leak,” Memphis coach David Fizdale told reporters after the latest loss — a 104-92 setback at Denver. “You know, I thought we competed hard but there were just too many casual, mindless turnovers. I’ve got three guys with four turnovers. You just can’t do that on the road, you can rarely get away with that at home.” One of those players with four turnovers was point guard Mario Chalmers, who is filling in as the starter while Mike Conley deals with an Achilles injury that is expected to keep him out until next month. The Nets know all about point guard injuries with Jeremy Lin (knee) and D’Angelo Russell (knee) watching from the bench but are more concerned with issues on the defensive end at the moment. Brooklyn is surrendering an average of 121.3 points during a three-game slide and allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to shoot 50 percent from the floor in a 127-125 loss on Friday.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis), YES (Brooklyn)
ABOUT THE NETS (6-12): Brooklyn had a chance in the fourth quarter in each of its last three games - losses to the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Trail Blazers - but could not make the necessary plays down the stretch. “I think that the hardest thing in the NBA is to close games,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters. “We saw it the other night in Cleveland; played really well for three quarters and then. ... There are great players on these other teams that are determined not to let you win, and I think that was a little bit the case (against Portland). They relied on their experience. But it’s also a positive experience for us. We can look at this and say, ‘How can we close games? What can we do better?’” One thing Brooklyn could do better is defend without fouling, and it is sending opponents to the line an average of 25.9 times per game.
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (7-11): The bright spot for Memphis continues to be center Marc Gasol, who showed off his wide range of skills with a career-high 14 assists on Friday. “You just have to find a way to win,” Gasol told reporters. “You have to find a way to do what we are supposed to do and help our teammates. We cannot take things upon (ourselves) because it’s hard to figure out sometimes, but we have to do it as a team.” Gasol is trying to get his teammates involved while struggling with his own shot and is 23-of-65 from the floor over the last four games.
1. Nets SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored at least 16 points in three straight games and five of the last six.
2. Grizzlies PF Brandan Wright (groin) sat out the last three games and remains day-to-day.
3. Memphis won in its last three trips to Brooklyn.
PREDICTION: Grizzlies 102, Nets 100