Connect with us

Uncategorized

Ja Morant’s game-winner vs. Suns shows what Grizzlies were missing without him, even if the results didn’t

Published

on


The just in: The Memphis Grizzlies are not better without Ja Morant. Nobody with a glimmer of brainpower ever believed they were, of course, but when Memphis, a 9-10 team prior to Morant’s knee injury, shot up to No. 4 in the Western Conference behind a 10-2 stretch without its star point guard, stupid things were said. 

Morant said he felt “hurt” when he heard fans telling him to “sit back out” during his first game back, a 102-99 loss to an Oklahoma City team the Grizzlies had previously beaten by an NBA record 73 points in Morant’s absence. 

On Monday, Morant reminded those few misguided fans — and the NBA world at large — what they’d been missing with an electric, 33-point showing that included the game-winning bucket against the Phoenix Suns

Advertisement

Morant began the season on a first-team-All-NBA-type tear, but the Grizzlies, despite a top-10 point differential and the No. 6 overall offense, per Cleaning the Glass, were just treading water at 9-9 with Morant at the helm (I’m not counting the loss to Atlanta in which Morant only played nine minutes).

Defense was the problem. Over those first 18 games, the Grizzlies gave up 110 points per 100 possessions, per CTG, which ranked 15th league-wide, but even that mediocre mark was being propped up by non-Morant minutes. For the season, Memphis has given up over 116 points per 100 possessions with Morant on the court, which would register as the worst defense in the league by a fairly appreciable margin. 

Compare that to a 104.2 defensive rating without Morant, which would rank third league-wide, toss in Morant’s minus-9.2 net rating for the season, per CTG, and you have a low-hanging statistical culprit for Memphis’ mediocre start. 

That said, the aforementioned 10-2 stretch that followed Morant’s injury requires qualifiers of its own. For starters, it’s really 10-3 as Morant only played nine minutes against Atlanta before being injured. The Grizzlies, largely without Morant, gave up 132 points that game to the largely full-strength Hawks

Full-strength is the operate qualifier there. Almost no teams are operating under such luxurious circumstances these days, and surely the Grizzlies’ wins over the Sixers without Joel Embiid, the Mavericks without Luka Doncic and the Heat without Bam Adebayo have to be considered with proper context.

Advertisement

Aside from that, two other wins came against the Kings, another against the cellar-dwelling Rockets, and another was the 73-point wiping of the Thunder, which obviously inflated their plus-14 point differential over the sans-Morant span. 

Offensively, Memphis sustained itself without Morant by killing teams on the offensive glass, scoring almost 29 points per 100 missed field goals off put-backs, per CTG, the top mark in the league over that 12-game span. Memphis also generated the highest turnover percentage, which led to the league’s highest transition scoring efficiency, per CTG. 

For a short period against a soft/star-depleted schedule, that was enough to cover for Memphis scoring just 90.7 points per 100 half-court plays, the seventh-worst mark in the league, without Morant, the lone Memphis playmaker who can consistently puncture and collapse set defenses. 

The slow start notwithstanding, Memphis is properly constructed to compensate for Morant’s defensive shortcomings. Unlike, say, the Blazers, who’ve multiplied Damian Lillard’s defensive issues by tying him to an equally bad defender in CJ McCollum, Memphis has flanked Morant with Dillon Brooks, one of the grittiest perimeter defenders in the league, and Desmond Bane, who is becoming a two-way monster before our eyes. 

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., who recently became the first player in history to record at least 250 blocked shots and 250 made 3-pointers in the first 160 games of his career, and Steven Adams blotting out out the paint and controlling the glass, plus a quality bench led by Tyus Jones, De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson, and you can see the makings of a top-10 offense and defensive team, which has long suggested the framework of a contender. 

Advertisement

I wouldn’t go so far as to stamp the Grizzlies with that level of status. But I’ll tell you this: beating a Suns team that owns the NBA’s second-best record and was operating at pretty much full strength, on the road, tells us more about what the Grizzlies can be, and have been dating back to last season’s postseason berth, with Morant than anything they accomplished without him. 



Source link

Advertisement

Uncategorized

White Sox’s Tony La Russa issues another intentional walk on two-strike count in loss vs. Guardians

Published

on



Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa made one of the weirdest strategic decisions of the season in June, when he issued an intentional walk to a batter who his pitcher had already staked out a 1-2 count against. The call backfired, as the next batter unloaded a home run that put the White Sox in a hole from which they could not recover. La Russa defended his decision afterward, and on Friday night he doubled-down, in a sense, by doing the same thing against the Cleveland Guardians as part of a 5-2 loss (box score).

Here’s how it went down:

The White Sox led the Guardians 2-1 entering the seventh inning. Cleveland would subsequently score a pair of runs with two outs in the frame to take a 3-2 lead before La Russa inserted left-handed reliever Jake Diekman. Diekman would then walk two consecutive batters before giving up a single to Andrés Giménez to plate two more runs, making it 5-2 with runners on first and second. At that point, the Guardians rookie outfielder Oscar Gonzalez had a chance to blow the game open.

Advertisement

Diekman would get ahead of Gonzalez 1-2 before the Guardians’ baserunners succeeded on a double-steal attempt. With first base open and two outs, La Russa called for the intentional walk. It should be noted that Gonzalez, though right-handed, has performed worse against lefty pitchers this season, and that he’s struck out in nearly 40 percent of the plate appearances that have reached two strikes.

Nevertheless, La Russa evidently wanted to force Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s hand with the next spot in the order. Lefty-swinging rookie Nolan Jones was due up, but Francona subbed him out for righty Owen Miller. La Russa then strolled to the mound to replace Diekman with right-hander Jimmy Lambert, who subsequently induced an inning-ending flyout on the second pitch of the at-bat.

The results will spare La Russa from the intensity of criticism that he received in June, but that doesn’t make it a sound process. We know from various studies conducted by smart analysts that microsplits, including those of the platoon and count variety, require regression toward the mean to have any actual predictive value. Maybe La Russa had those numbers on hand from the White Sox’s analytical department, but we’re going to guess that he made his call based on Gonzalez’s two-strike average (.265) and Miller’s average against righties (.262 this year or .242 career). 

After all, if intentionally walking batters who are stuck in two-strike counts was a sound tactical decision based on the numbers, the odds are that the Los Angeles Dodgers or … well, the Guardians would be the ones doing it; not La Russa. 

It may have not factored into the final score on Friday, but the White Sox can’t be thrilled that their manager seems committed to making the same mistake twice.

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Sonya Deville & Natalya face Toxic Attraction in WWE's Tag Team Title Tournament | WWE on FOX

Published

on




Natalya and Sonya Deville took on former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne from Toxic Attraction on Friday Night SmackDown.



Source link

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Elks dominate second half, snap three-game skid with win over Redblacks 

Published

on


OTTAWA — Taylor Cornelius threw two touchdown passes and the Edmonton Elks scored 21 unanswered points in the second half of a 30-12 win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday.

.acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container {
width: 340px;
margin: 0 auto;
}

Cornelius completed 16-of-27 passes for 208 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass to Derel Walker with 6:34 left in the fourth quarter. The win halted a three-game losing streak for the Elks (3-7).

Advertisement

Caleb Evans threw for 111 yards and rushed for another 82, including a 21-yard touchdown run, but the Redblacks (1-8) lost for the 19th time in their last 20 games.

One of the few bright spots for the Redblacks was a 50-yard reception by Darvin Adams, who played in his 100th CFL game.

An 18-yard touchdown pass from Cornelius to Kenny Lawler at 11:03 in the third quarter gave the Elks their first lead of the game at 16-12.

Just under eight minutes later, Ante Milanovic-Litre scored on a two-yard run to boost the Elks’ lead to 23-12 following a Sergio Castillo extra point.

The Redblacks entered the third quarter up 12-9 after a less than spectacular first half that began with Ottawa’s PA announcer introducing Edmonton as the Eskimos.

Advertisement

Lewis Ward made a 46-yard field goal near the midway mark of the first quarter, but a roughing the kicker penalty on Edmonton defensive lineman Jake Ceresna gave the Redblacks a fresh set of downs. A minute later, Ottawa took advantage as Evans ran in for a 21-yard score at the 7:43 mark.

The Elks answered back before the end of the quarter on a 52-yard field goal by Castillo.

In the second quarter, Ward left six points on the board with back-to-back missed field goals from 40 and 47 yards that led to a pair of rouge points. Ward connected from 13 yards out with 4:45 left to give the Redblacks a 12-3 lead.

Late in the first half, the Elks had the ball at the Redblacks one-yard line following a defensive pass interference call.

Quarterback Kai Locksley entered the game for the short-yardage situation but was stopped twice on sneak attempts. Locksley scored on his third attempt on a sweep right play, but Castillo hit the upright on the point after attempt to make it 12-9.

Advertisement

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
gap: 20px;
}

Advertisement

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a {
pointer-events: none;
cursor: default;
text-decoration: none;
color: black;
}




Source link

Continue Reading

Trending