It starts with a deep breath. Then the anger and frustration boil up, but NO - you stamp them back and find a way to get to that old cozy spot: excuse making. It's a hundred-year-old sports tradition. Why suffer a true defeat or award your opponent with any credit for their victory when you can look inward?
Tonight was simple. Marc played the wrong kind of "1 in a thousand" game. It was - as they say - one of those nights for Gasol. It could have been worse, however, as the "Brother Who Shall Not Be Named" went down with a serious foot injury and is likely out 8-12 weeks. (Aside: I had panic attack when I read ageneric tweet about Gasol being scheduled for anMRI tomorrow.) I hate that for Pau, but there is perspective to be found there: Marc played poorly, but will be back out on the Court tomorrow night in Atlanta. One thing you can count on is that Marc is his harshest critic. Tonight's performance will eat him up for the next 21 hours and he will be focused tomorrow.
The other oddity in this game was DA's total failure to contribute, but worse, how much he hurt us. He wasn't "blowing up the pick-and-roll" as he is known to. While he is not a guy who will lead the league is any meaningful statistic, he is a stat sheet filler - checking a lot of boxes in a very short time. We saw tonight that when his 18f-ooter wasn't falling, he has the ability to disappear. It may be as simple as chalking this up to the unsettled rotation among our second unit.
Am I content after that loss? Of course not. Am I angry? Nah. I'm disappointed, because after 3 days practicing together, I was hoping we'd see better chemistry. We have a lot of capable parts on this team (especially when QPon returns next week). It will be exciting to see them gel - which I hope happens sooner than later. The downside is that it means Chris Johnson, John Leuer and Tony Wrotten are not going to crack the rotation most nights.
I started this all leave you with a simple point: Phoenix is historically a matchup problem for this team; Marc's night was a massive aberration and not sign of bigger problems; DA was only 30% of the DA we need. None of these things should be indicative of a bigger problem and I expect it to quickly turn around.
This team knows what lies ahead and understand the hard work necessary to reach their goals. At this point, they're scraping along trying to get to the All-Star Break with 31+ wins, knowing that a tough stretch awaits them afterwards with 5 of the first 7 on the road.
But tonight - we have excuses. So use them to fluff up your SuperGrizz pillow and get some sleep, because tomorrow you need to have your head right so we can take care of business in Atlanta. You can bet our players will have thier's right.
Grind on, Memphis.