The Memphis Grizzlies made a few trades prior to the trade deadline, and it was thought the Griz would tumble from the fifth spot in the Western Conference. Alas, Memphis is 7-4 post-All-Star break and playing some of its best ball of the season.
Memphis (38-26) is coming off a 116-96 loss to Boston on Wednesday. The Grizzlies have scored 100 or more points in nine of its last 11 games. The Griz, who are 28-6 when reaching the century mark, are four and a half games ahead of the sixth-place Portland Trail Blazers and only three and a half games behind the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to ESPN, Memphis has lost more playing time due to injury or illness this season than any other current playoff team. The Grizzlies were without starters Zach Randolph, Chris Anderson, Matt Barnes, and Mike Conley. Marc Gasol (out for the season with a broken foot), Brandan Wright (knee), and Jordan Adams (out indefinitely with a knee injury) were already scheduled to miss the game. The Grizzlies got Tony Allen back prior to the game against Cleveland after he missed the previous eight games with a knee injury. Allen scored a season-high 26 points, on 11-of-17 shooting, while also handing out a season-best four dimes and coming up with five steals.
Tony Allen returned to the court in a big way against Cleveland on Monday after missing the previous eight games with a knee injury, scoring a season-high 26 points as he made 11-of-17 shots. Allen also had a season-best five steals and four dimes.
Randolph (knee) and Barnes (hamstring) are both day to day and did not play against the Celtics. Celtics. Anderson (shoulder) and Conley (foot) will miss the game against the Celtics and will be re-evaluated by later this week.
To make matters worse, Mario Chalmers left in the third quarter with a serious leg injury. Chalmers ended up rupturing his right Achilles tendon and is out for the season. As a result, the Grizzlies have waived the backup point guard as he will become a unrestricted free agent after the season.
“Mario did an incredible job for us since coming to Memphis,” Grizzlies general manger Chris Wallace said. “Right from the start, he embraced his change of scenery and endeared himself to his teammates and coaches on the court and the Memphis community off of it.He has been an important part of our success this season, both coming off the bench and when called upon as a starter. But with Mario’s season-ending injury and our already depleted roster, it became necessary to free up a roster spot.“
Chalmers posted averages of 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 22.8 minutes over 55 games with the Grizzlies after being acquired from the Heat in early November.
No idea what's already been reported but looks like Griz will pursue two more injury exemptions, in addition to Weber, 1 guard, 1 big.— Chris Herrington (@HerringtonNBA) March 10, 2016
Gasol, Conley, and Randolph are the Griz’s top-three scorers. Gasol and Randolph are also the team’s top reboundersrupturing his right Achilles tendon, and Conley is the team’s top playmaker.
With all the injuries and the trades of Courtney Lee and Jeff Green, how is Memphis succeeding?
The reason that Memphis is having success is because the three players the Grizzlies acquired in their trade deadline deals (Anderson, Stephenson, and P.J. Hairston) have been able to fill every role that has been asked of them, and the rest of the squad has adapted very well, according to NBA.com.
Stephenson, who lingered deep on the Clippers bench, has been terrific since coming to Memphis. The 25-year-old has scored in double-figures in seven-of-his-nine games with the Griz, is averaging 13.0 points and 4.6 rebounds, and is shooting 52.7 percent from the floor.
Anderson has brought energy and toughness to the team. The 37-year-old has started four of his nine games with the team and is averaging 4.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 16.9 minutes; he appeared in seven games with Miami prior to the trade. Hairston is still struggling with shooting, although he has recorded three double-figures games, which includes dumping in a season-high 21 points in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on February 24. The 23-year-old is averaging 7.9 points on 37.5 percent shooting with Memphis.
“The fans are enjoying this recent incarnation of the Grizzlies,” Memphis general manager Chris Wallace told the Commercial Appeal. “It’s come together rather well and rather quickly. You have to give the players and coaching staff credit. They’ve embraced the challenge. Everybody has rallied together. There have been more positive individual performances than I have time to trot out. Everybody on the roster has played their part. We’ve won low-scoring games and high-scoring games. I’m pleased with the effort and the spirit and the results so far.”
With so many injuries, the Griz have been granted a hardship waiver by the NBA, and they plan on adding rookie guard Briante Weber to the 10-day contract, per Shams Charania of the Vertical.
Memphis Grizzlies plan to sign guard Briante Weber of Sioux Falls to 10-day contract w/ injury exception, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 9, 2016
Weber, an affiliate player with the Heat, was playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the D-League. The 23-year-old point guard was averaging 10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 22 games. He was shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc to go along with 1.95 steals a game.
Weber went undrafted out of Virginia Commonwealth in 2015. He is very quick and excels in the open court. But his forte is defense, where he has super quick hands and is strong.
Update: The Richmond Times Dispatch is reporting that Weber will be in the lineup Friday against New Orleans.
Since the All-Star break, Memphis is averaging 104.5 points a game, which is 6.5 more than the Griz did prior to the break. The Grizzlies are also shooting a tad bit better (46.0-to-44.6 percent) and getting to the line more often (+4.2 times a game). They are limiting their turnovers and creating more creating turnovers.
[Photo by Lenny Ignelzi/AP]