The Memphis Grizzlies slumped to an eighth straight loss in the NBA as they continued to feel the absence of star point guard Mike Conley on Sunday.
The Grizzlies lost to the Brooklyn Nets 98-88 with Conley sidelined by injury. And once again, the Grizzlies (7-12) looked lost without him.
Conley has been hampered all season by a sore left heel and Achilles tendon. He has not played since November 15 while undergoing treatment. Although he is due to be evaluated again this week, the fear is he will be sidelined even longer.
After jumping out to a 5-1 start this season, the Grizzlies have now lost 11 of 13 games. The loss of Conley (17.1 points, 4.1 assists per game) has definitely hurt, but several things went wrong Sunday against the 7-12 Nets that had nothing to do with Conley. After being tied 47-all at the half, Memphis came out flat in the third quarter. They gave up easy baskets on defense, and the Nets controlled the boards, especially on the offensive glass. Despite getting some open looks on offense, the Grizzlies' shots did not fall.
The Nets built a 19-point lead in the third quarter. Although Memphis rallied to cut the margin to five in the fourth, it was not enough.
Coach David Fizdale became a media darling and fan favourite last season in his first year at the Grizzlies' helm. He needs a healthy Conley to keep this season from going down the drain.
JAMES STEPS UP
Point guard Mike James came off the bench for the Phoenix Suns and scored 26 points, with seven assists and five rebounds, in a losing effort.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points and had 12 rebounds in the Minnesota Timberwolves' 119-108 win over the Suns.
STRUGGLES IN CHICAGO
The Heat and Bulls got off to a terrible start Sunday in Chicago. The Bulls led 13-7 after one quarter. That was the third-fewest combined points in a first quarter since the NBA adopted the shot clock for the 1954-55 season. The two teams shot a combined six for 43 from the field in the first quarter.
Hassan Whiteside looked like he wanted to posterise someone on a thunderous dunk, but nobody took the bait.
Miami Heat 100-93 Chicago Bulls
Minnesota Timberwolves 119-108 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 98-88 Memphis Grizzlies
CAVS AT 76ERS
Many basketball insiders have been comparing 76ers rookie Ben Simmons to LeBron James for a couple of years, and James has said he does not mind. Monday we will find out happens when they meet on the court for the first time. Simmons sat out Saturday's game with an elbow injury but is expected back against the Cavs.