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‘Next year’ came too soon for the Grizz and fans

  • Written by Kelley Evans
  • Published in Sports
Chris Wallace

Memphis fans wanted to believe that the Grizzlies could make franchise history and move into the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the second consecutive year. Late in the fourth quarter, the faithful among 18,119 fans stood and held up the gold "Believe Memphis" growl towels strategically placed in each seat before the game. The song "Don't Stop Believing" sounded throughout FedExForum. The Grizzlies were down by six.

And that's pretty much how that part of the story ends.

The Grizzlies were defeated (82-72) in the winner-take-all battle on Sunday (May 13) against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7.

On Monday (May 14), there was time for reflection.

General Manager Chris Wallace

"You learn every year," said Wallace, noting that there is a great deal of work to be done in the off season, given the number of roster players who are restricted free agents.

"I have to tip my hat to The Clippers. They are a tremendous team with great depth, a true superstar in Chris Paul – a real up and coming team. It was the best series so far in the NBA. We gave the fans some thrills along the way," he said.

"After you have a loss in the playoffs, you have to find a way to get better. You just can't stay with the status quo. That doesn't mean you're going to blow the team up or anything. But you have to look to add the players that can make your team better."

That, he said, includes looking for a shooter and a back-up point guard.

Head Coach Lionel Hollins

"We need to address our issues before we can really go forward," said Hollins. "I just want us to be more professional, more disciplined and more in tuned with what we're doing. We need scoring off the bench. We need defense off the bench.

"What I will look at is what we need to do better – me as a coach and us as a team," said Hollins. "I'll get criticized for that and I'll take the criticism from the media and the fans. I'm very secure in who I am as a person and the job that I've done. Once I got over the pain last night, I slept like a baby. We did all we could and we lost."

O.J. Mayo

"I'm just as upset as anybody else. I feel that we still should be playing," said Mayo. "I'm not the perfect player. I'm not the perfect guard. All you can do in the off season is to try to get better.

"In a short season like this, it's like an emotional roller coaster," said Mayo. "You have a lot of highs and lows. If you remember this feeling, hopefully it will motivate you to do better next year."

Zach Randolph

"I really didn't get much sleep last night," said Randolph. "By far this was my hardest year in basketball. There have been ups and downs from the injury and by coming in from this summer and being so prepared – my best ever.

"We're looking for a championship. We've got a good team. We can compete," said Randolph. "I feel like we were supposes to win this series. This summer is going to be an important summer for this team."

Tony Allen

"I'm going to get in better shape. I'm going to improve shooting and ball handling, just being a better competitor," said Allen. "Next year is next year and I'm looking forward to it.

"The fans were cool this season. They're like a red bull to the system," said Allen. Memphis has the best fans that I've ever been around. They showed big support during the lockout. They were huge during the playoff season. I just want to send a big shout out to the fans."

Rudy Gay

"I'm going to take a little bit of time off mentally," said Gay.

"We are now a playoff team. It's tough. I will continue to work hard. We can regroup and we can all get better."

Marc Gasol

"It's been a tough season," said Gasol. "I just finished my season yesterday and I haven't really thought about anything.

"But I know every player needs to get better – in every aspect. I love my teammates. I love every single one of them like they are all my brothers

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