by Kelley D. Evans
The preseason has officially started for the Grizzlies. On Wednesday (Oct. 8th), Memphis fell to a Bucks comeback in Milwaukee, 86-83, before heading to Houston where they lost 113-93 to the Rockets the following night.
The Grizzlies will host their first preseason home game on Saturday (Oct. 11) against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Griz geared up for preseason on Monday, with fans welcomed to check the team’s skills at FedExForum during the first open practice of the season. More than three hundred people were in the building to watch what began as an hour-long practice session with shooting drills and ended in a dynamic three-point shoot out.
It is no secret that outside shooting has been a growth area for the Grizzlies. The winners of the three-point contest were newcomer and NBA veteran Vince Carter and Courtney Lee. Each tallied 16 points. The tiebreaker was the first to hit a half-court shot. Lee won the shootout with his first half-court attempt after Carter’s miss.
“I didn’t think Courtney Lee would just shoot from half court and call it a day,” said Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger.
The three-point contest started with Quincy Pondexter (13) vs. Jon Leuer (11), Carter (17) vs. Zach Randolph (9), Beno Undrih (12) vs. rookie Jordan Adams (11) and Marc Gasol (16) vs. Lee (18).
After the open-practice concluded, players signed a few autographs and took photos before making their way onto the practice court, where they completed more drills and went through a rigorous, almost two-hour routine.
“We’re trying to develop guys,” Joerger said. “All of October is training. It’s all part of the preseason. I think guys are getting better each and every year.”
As for Joerger, during training camp he spotted things that need to get better.
“We’ve got to continue to do a better job getting back in transition defensively. We have to do a better job talking, on the pick-and-roll, the weak side defense has to get better, the on-ball pressure has to get better, we need to consistently run better and we’ve got to turn the ball over a lot less with better fundamental passing."
As for the newcomers, rookie Jarnell Stokes said, “It’s definitely tough. I’m definitely realizing that I can play with these guys. But I’m mostly realizing why some of the All Stars are All Stars and why they are such a championship-contending team. They play tough but they run the offense to the tee.”