Grizzlies biggest flaws revealed in streak-ending loss to Lakers

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant-Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant-Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Grizzlies lost to the Lakers in heartbreaking fashion Friday night, ending their 11-game winning streak. Here is what went wrong.

The Grizzlies have been rising up power rankings since the last week of December, coming into their game against the Lakers having won 11 consecutive games. With a win, they would set a new franchise record for their longest winning streak. Instead, they blew a fourth-quarter lead thanks to a number of mistakes and questionable foul calls.

With their streak over, they look to rebound over the next few weeks before the All-Star break. What can they learn from this embarrassing showing against the Lakers? Let’s take a closer look at what went wrong.

Grizzlies’ Achilles heel strikes again

The Grizzlies are one of the best teams in the NBA, so they generally are pretty great in most metrics. They have the best defensive rating and are seventh in offensive rating this season. The only other team who is top seven in both is the Boston Celtics. Overall, they don’t have many true negatives on their resume. The one they do have, though, is their free throw shooting.

Not only do the Grizzlies struggle at the charity stripe, nobody else is even close to their level of futility. They are a full three percentage points lower than the next worse team, sitting at 71.1% compared to the Spurs’ 74.1%. The difference between them and the Spurs is the same as the Spurs and the Pistons, who are 22nd in the league. Their struggles at the line played a huge part in the loss to the Lakers, as they shot just 65% (26-40) on the night. If they had even shot their normal 70-ish percent it could have been the difference in winning or losing.

In a game full of questionable fouls, taking advantage of all the calls by hitting your free throws is just so important. The fact that the game ended on a missed free throw by Brandon Clarke was as poetic as it was disappointing. If the Grizzlies can’t tighten up their performance at the line, close games will become a problem for them. The issue will only be exasperated in the playoffs as offense becomes harder to come by.

Grizzlies’ Brooks was a huge liability on offense

Grizzlies’ fans will hate to hear it, but Dillon Brooks was a major part of why their winning streak was ended by the Lakers. Yes, he helped keep LeBron James in check for most of the game. The announcers gave him plenty of praise for that, and rightfully so. Despite that, the Grizzlies were outscored by 11 points with him on the floor thanks to his abysmal shooting. He finished 4-17 shooting on the night, dropping his overall percentage on the season to under 40%.

As great of a defender as Brooks can be, he is just as bad offensively. He simply cannot be taking so many shots when he clearly doesn’t have his shot falling. The Grizzlies’ perimeter players struggled as a whole in this game, but Brooks was by far the biggest negative. I think it’s time to question whether Brooks is the best long-term fit for the Grizzlies. Finding a much more efficient third option offensively who can defend his position has to be a priority.