There is no fool's paradise in the Bluff City. Grizz fans have come to the realization that the team is in a slump. They still show up hoping for a win, but are prepared for a loss.
Memphis ended a season-long, six-game home stand just like it started – with a loss. On Wednesday night (Dec. 11), the Oklahoma City Thunder came into FedExForum on the second night of a back-to-back and defeated the Grizzlies 116-110. Many of the reported 16,345 fans in attendance left in the fourth quarter.
"It's not enjoyable what is going on out there, said Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger. "Losing by two or 22, losing at home, we take a great deal of pride in playing at home. It hurts."
When it comes to defining that which is "typically American," I think we're going to have to add "sports" to the old expression, "As American as Mom and apple pie."
We are a country full of sports fanatics. (While I might not exactly fall into that category, I am the mother of an extraordinary 17-year-old athlete and lover of all things sports. So, I have to admit, that I need to step up and try to keep up)! Nielsen numbers bear this out.
Sports programs are among the top watched in African-American households as well as those of the general population, with the Super Bowl consistently ranking as the most-watched program across the board. In fact, Super Bowl XLVII drew 108 million viewers nationally. African-Americans made up a whopping 12.5 million of those viewers. (Personally, I enjoy the parties and the commercials, the game? Not so much.)
With their season at an end, the University of Memphis Tigers hosted the Highland Hundred banquet this past Sunday (Dec. 8). Outgoing seniors and outstanding players were honored at the event.
Senior running back Brandon Hayes was awarded the DeAngelo Williams MVP award. Hayes tallied 860 yards rushing and 119 yards receiving with seven touchdowns, which also helped him win the Isaac Bruce Offensive Player of the Year award for the second straight season.
Anthony Brown won the John Bramlett Defensive Player of the Year for recording 52 tackles (four for a loss) and 1.5 sacks. Brown is a junior college transfer and has totaled 86 tackles in his two seasons at Memphis.
All hands were on deck on a cold Monday night at FedExForum. Every Memphis Grizzlies player not injured put in playing time. And all of this fresh off of yet another player having joined the injured list.
With that painful backdrop and home-losing woes to contend with, the Grizzlies persevered, racking up a much-needed 95-84 win against the 6-16 Orlando Magic.
Before the game, the Grizzlies announced that Quincy Pondexter is out indefinitely with a tarsal navicular stress fracture in his right foot. Pondexter sustained the injury on Saturday (Dec. 7) as Memphis fell to the Golden State Warriors 108-82. He went down in the first half and did not return. Pondexter was in the starting lineup that night, replacing Tony Allen, who was out with a right hip contusion.
As a photojournalist with a particular eye for sports, capturing images of the University of Memphis Tigers and the Memphis Grizzlies is a thrill a minute regardless of the competition or the outcome.
For Memphis Grizzlies players, joining the sick and shut in does not come as a surprise. Tony Allen and Ed Davis have now been added to the injury list.
After recently losing center Marc Gasol (left MCL sprain) and Zach Randolph (toe injury), Allen missed Thursday's home game (Dec. 5) against the Los Angeles Clippers with a hip contusion. In the second quarter of the match-up, Davis left with a left ankle sprain and did not return.
The Grizzlies fell to the Clippers 101-81 in front of a crowd of 15,112. But it wasn't a lack of effort or energy that caused the loss. At least Randolph doesn't think so.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was back in his normal space – mind and body – on Tuesday (Dec. 2). He didn't have to carry the weight of the team.
"I thought Mike Conley didn't look as tired as he normally does because we put our bodies on people and got him open," said Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger.
"Then he can make plays. He's dropping it off. He got 14 assists. I can imagine a lot of those are to our bigs when they're rolling to the basket or punching it underneath the backboard."