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Preseason was observation time for new Grizz players

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in Sports

Back-to-back losses for the Grizzlies may not mean much. It’s just the preseason. To some, preseason games matter. To others, they are not a factor. But they do give Grizz fans a glimpse of new players.

 Tony Allen of the Grizzlies appears to get mauled by Marco Belinelli of the New Orleans Hornets, but no foul was called during the pre-season tilt at the FedExForum last Friday. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)
 New Grizz reserve guard Josh Selby (right) and David Anderson of New Orleans battle for a loose ball during Memphis’ 97-90 loss in the team’s first preseason game of the year last Friday (Dec. 16). On Wednesday (Dec. 21), the Grizzlies lost again to the Hornets(95-80), this time at the New Orleans Arena.

The second and last game of a short NBA preseason marked the second loss for the Memphis Grizzlies as they fell to their division rivals, the New Orleans , 95-80 on Wednesday (Dec. 21) at the New Orleans Arena.

The Grizzlies had a quick start with 80 percent shooting but the fast-paced and newly-renovated Hornets team had a quick answer. There were three lead changes but once the Hornets scoring picked up at 35-31, the Grizzlies couldn’t quite find an offensive match to surpass the deficit.

Grizz point guard Mike Conley left the game early and the offense never could grasp a sufficient level of chemistry to put the Grizzlies back on top, even after his return.

Rudy Gay led the game in scoring, finishing with 20 points, followed by Zach Randolph with 15.

For Head Coach Lionel Hollins, preseason – though ever so short – was time for observation. He knew exactly what to look for in his players and had a game plan for wisely using the reduced time frame.

Following Friday’s loss against the Hornets at FedExForum, where the Grizzlies lost 97-90, Hollins said he wanted to see what the newer guys could do in a game situation. With players out amid injuries, it was a great opportunity for newcomers to get court time.

Center Marc Gasol was out with a left ankle sprain. Darrell Arthur did not play due to left Achilles soreness. Also missing was Xavier Henry, who endured a right ankle sprain. Sam Young never entered the game because of a right ankle sprain.

“I didn’t want to play those guys while they’re banged up,” Hollins said. “The second part of that is I gave Selby (Josh) and Pargo (Jeremy) a long look.  I wanted to see what they could do.”

Along with Selby and Pargo, eye-catching players were center and 13-year NBA veteran Brian Skinner, Josh Davis and Walter Sharpe.
“I thought Pargo attacked the basket and did some nice things,” Hollins said.

The heavily-concentrated guard spot can go any way this season with Greivis Vasquez, Pargo and Selby, who will all contribute as called upon but will be vying for the back-up point guard position.

Tony Allen finished preseason game one with 17 points followed by Gay and Pargo, who both pitched in 15 each.  Skinner led the Grizzlies in rebounding with nine and O.J. Mayo had the most minutes (33) with 12 points.

Hornets Jarrett Jack led that game in scoring with 24 points followed by Emeka Okafor and Quincy Poindexter pitching in 12 points each.

Now that the preseason is over it’s time for the real deal.  
Grizz Notes

The Grizzlies will depart on Christmas night heading to San Antonio for the season opener on Dec. 26 and will return home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 28.  The home opener has been added to the National TV Schedule.

Memphis Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur will undergo surgery to repair a torn right Achilles tendon and will return for the start of next season.  

In lieu of Arthur’s absence, the Grizzlies have tendered an offer sheet to restricted free agent forward Dante Cunningham, which the Charlotte Bobcats will have the opportunity to match.

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