It’s hard to take Memphis seriously as a contender out West (and believe us, we’ve been down with Grit N’ Grind since the start) when you watch them play in tight games and they’re STILL making the same crunch time mistakes that did them in last season. Seriously, last night’s 97-92 home loss to Denver was super frustrating to watch and we aren’t even Memphis fans (real Grizz fans must’ve been tearing their own eyes out). On one hand, they have at least two go-to scorers in Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay (22 points), and yet still had crucial turnovers down the stretch while allowing Denver to score the game’s last nine points even as Andre Miller threw a hail mary into the tenth row in the stands on one play, and while Denver continuously missed free throws. Then you had Tony Allen in full-on “trick or treat” mode, scoring six straight clutch points before following those up with a technical because he decided he needed to flick Kenneth Faried‘s mane … Meanwhile, the closest the Nuggets have to a go-to player is Danilo Gallinari (26 points). He drew six free throws in the game’s final minutes (something he does incredible well), and also hit the back-breaking triple … An 11-0 run in the middle of the third quarter blew it open for the Hawks in their ugly 81-72 win over Orlando. During that span, we saw more off-the-dribble Arron Afflalo jumpers than we’ve seen in the last three years. In fact, Orlando’s offense all night was like watching a toddler taking off the training wheels for the first time. When the main components of your pick-n-roll are often Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, then you know you have serious issues … It was hard to be mad at Monta Ellis last night for scoring 31 points. But because he did it in typical Monta Ellis fashion by taking 28 shots, turning it over six times, having a miserable final two minutes, and then nearly breaking the rim with an awful triple attempt with Milwaukee down two in the final seconds, it sort of made sense. Charlotte finished with a 21-6 run, and had four guys (Byron Mullens, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ramon Sessions) score at least 15 points, which was just enough (final score: 102-98) to overcome Monta Ellis’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde night … Maybe one of these days, the Lakers (5-5) will get on the Bobcats’ (5-4) level … While Cody Zeller (six points, four boards) spent the entire night conjuring up ways to destroy his own case as a potential No. 1 pick, Indiana took about 30 minutes to warm up and get the juices flowing. Finally, once the shots started going down, they peeled off the outer layer of Georgia’s defense, and ran away with it, 66-53 … In other college hoops action, Shabazz Muhammad got his first PT of the season, scoring 15 points even as the No. 11 UCLA Bruins were upset pretty convincingly by Georgetown … UNC annihilated Mississippi State, 95-49, in a game that was over before the team’s even stepped off the buses … And did you catch the buzzer-beating heave that Butler’s Rotnei Clarke hit to beat Marquette yesterday in the EA Sports Maui Invitational? Sick … We’re out like Cleveland’s season.
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