Going into Saturday’s game with the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies had the best record in the league at 14-3. They led the Southwest division by percentage points over the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies were 9-1 at home and had beaten 13 straight Eastern Conference teams. Memphis had won 6 of their last 7 games this season. All of those things went away thanks to a 93-83 loss at home to the red hot Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks improved to 12-5 this season, and have won 9 of their last 10 games. Atlanta is a half game behind the Miami Heat in the Southeast Division. The Grizzlies dropped to 14-4 and are now a game and a half behind San Antonio at 17-4.
The Grizzlies took a narrow 22-21 lead at the end of the first quarter. They led by as many as 5 in the quarter. Memphis expanded the lead to 40-32 with just over 4 minutes to go in the half. They would end up with a 47-41 lead at halftime.
Strong starts to third quarters have been a hallmark of the Grizzlies’ great season so far. It didn’t happen tonight as the Hawks opened the third on a 10-4 run to tie it up at 51. Memphis would regain the lead 58-53 with just over 5 minutes left in the quarter. However, Atlanta then went on a 20-0 run to take a 73-58 lead. The Grizzlies wouldn’t score again until 26 seconds left in the quarter to make it 73-60. That was the score going into the fourth.
The Grizzlies fought back to within 6 points with just under 8 minutes to go, and again with 38 seconds left. Memphis would get no closer though. The Hawks held on for the 93-83 win.
Atlanta shot 44.2% from the field including 7/17 on three point shots. The Hawks made 17 of 25 free throws. Atlanta had 44 rebounds, 20 assists, 10 steals, 3 blocks, and 14 turnovers. The Hawks had 15 fast break points, and 42 points in the paint.
Hawks’ forward Josh Smith had 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and a block. Guard Louis Williams had 21 points, 3 rebounds, one assist, and 2 steals off the bench. He made 4 of 6 three pointers. Center Al Horford had 19 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block. Jeff Teague had 13 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Memphis shot 42.9% from the field, including 6/16 from 3 point range. No Hawks opponent has shot more than 50% this season. The Grizzlies made 11 of 18 free throws. Memphis had 40 rebounds, 15 assists, 8 steals, 5 blocks, and 16 turnovers. The Grizzlies had 5 fast break points and 38 points in the paint.
Memphis forward Zach Randolph had 18 points, 13 rebounds, and a block. Center Marc Gasol had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. Forward Rudy Gay had 17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, an assist, and a block. He was 7 for 25 shooting from the field. Point guard Mike Conley had 12 points, 3 assists, a rebound and a steal. The rest of the Grizzlies combined for 18 points.
Sometimes you are going to have nights where your shooting is off. The Grizzlies’ had such a night Saturday. Chalk it up to the Hawks’ great defense. Next up for the Grizzlies is a three game road trip starting Wednesday at Phoenix. The Grizzlies will also play at Utah and Denver on Friday and Saturday.