Lose a fourth straight game, give so little effort that your coach says to the media, “Did you see effort out there?” and it’s time for a closed-door meeting.
And that’s what the Grizzlies had Monday night after an 83-73 loss to the San Antonio Spurs that inspired boos from the FedExForum crowd and had coach Lionel Hollins saying the guys known for Grit and Grind were “not working.”
Point guard Mike Conley said that he, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay collectively called the meeting.
“Guys were able to talk to each other face-to-face, call each other out, and be accountable,” Conley said. “If guys accept it as constructive criticism, be a man about it, we’ll be fine.”
At least part of the meeting dealt with defensive issues, whether or not players “have each other’s back.”
Said Conley: “Guys gotta trust each other defensively. We can’t be out there thinking, ‘I’m not gonna help because when I got beat I didn’t get any help.’”
The Grizzlies’ locker room remained closed much longer than usual after the game and when media were finally allowed in Tony Allen was the only one there to answer questions for several minutes.
The sum of Allen’s comments: “At the end of the day, we should never be talking about effort being why we’re losing games.”
The four-game losing streak began after a fantastic comeback at Golden State. The Grizzlies then lost by 13 at Portland, by seven in L.A. to the Clippers, and by two at Phoenix. The Grizzlies are 10-10 and if the playoffs started now, they would not be part of them.
San Antonio (13-9) outrebounded Memphis 46-37, and the Grizzlies had just 10 assists with 17 turnovers. They allowed Spurs reserve Matt Bonner to get one wide-open 3-point look after another on the way to hitting 5-of-9 long shots for his 15 points. The Spurs also held a 32-28 edge on points in the paint, a category the Grizzlies almost always win by a large margin.
“Defense and rebounding are both effort stats,” Hollins said.
The Spurs held Gay, averaging 18.7 points per game, without a field goal (0-for-7) and he scored one point. Gasol grabbed 12 rebounds, but had just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.
“I take responsibility for that,” Gay said of his one-point night. “You won’t see that again from me.”
The lockout-shortened season has squeezed the schedule and the Grizzlies admit to being tired, but they also said every other team is weary too. And there’s no time to rest with the Denver Nuggets (14-6) coming into FedExForum Tuesday night.
“We have to show pride,” Conley said. “This game is something we love to do and we have to show that. We have to come out playing like the hungry team we normally are.”
And if they come out like the team that barely participated Monday night?
“We’re not gonna have a chance,” Conley said.