A depleted and resting eight-man Memphis Grizzlies roster handed the Cleveland Cavaliers one of their worst losses of the season 106-103. The Memphis bench rose to the challenge, running out to a 33-25 first quarter lead and withstood a late Cavaliers run to win 106-103.
The Cavaliers played sloppy and slow throughout, shooting just 7-of-29 from three-point range and giving up a season-high 25 turnovers. Add on Memphis's 24 fast break points, and you can start to see where it went wrong. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the team with 28 and 27 points respectively, but failed to close out the game down the stretch. Irving's steal and fast break layup gave the team their first lead of the game at 98-97 with 2:43 left in the fourth. However, a late lost jump ball and an away-from-play foul called on Matthew Dellevedova sealed the win for the Grizzles, as Irving's three to tie the game at the end of regulation fell short.
Tony Allen returned for his first game following a knee injury coming out of the All-Star break. He had 26 points and five steals on 11-of-17 shooting, tying his third highest career total. The Grizzlies were without any of the starting five that lost to the Cavaliers at the start of the season. The team traveled with just eight players for tonight's game. Marc Gasol has been out indefinitely following foot surgery. Mike Conley and Chris Anderson were not with the team due a sore foot and shoulder injury respectively. And Zach Randolph and Matt Barnes rested with DNPs.
The Cavs are now 44-18 and 6-4 in their 10 games since the All-Star Break. They hold a 2.5 game lead for first place in the East but continue to struggle to find consistent play from their starting five. (Not to mention which starting five?) It is questionable how long Timofey Mozgov will last as the starting center following a 2 point performance. And JR Smith's 1-of-8 three-point shooting certainly did not help. But against a Memphis starting five that included JaMychal Green, P.J. Hairston, and Ryan Hollins, this kind of flat performance is more than concerning.
Doomed? Maybe. It's the East, they just beat the Celtics, yeah yeah yeah. But when looking for answers to what the Cavs can do in the face of this season-low performance, I'd suggest looking to the puzzling twitter accounts of the team's two biggest stars:
Structure and Consistency creates Perfection. U shortcut, u come up short! Straight Up. #DVC #SFG— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 7, 2016
Control what you can control. Sounds so cliche, but its the bold truth.— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) March 7, 2016
Control what you can control and consistency. Go Cavs, I guess.