MMPG: Team of the Weak
The Memphis Grizzlies became the seventh team this season to determine that it was the coach, not the players, that was the problem and fired Marc Iavaroni last week. The Grizzlies didn't hesitate to hire Milwaukee Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins, a longtime Grizzlies assistant who had two previous stints as interim head coach -- only after former Mavericks Coach and ESPN analyst Avery Johnson turned down the job. Hollins inherits a team that has lost nine in a row and 17 of its past 19 games overall, with the streak coinciding with center Darko Milicic breaking his knuckle.
The most troubling aspect of the latest losing streak is that Memphis has been defeated by double figures in seven of the nine games, losing by an average of 13.1 points. Last week, the Grizzlies lost to Detroit, Charlotte, New York and New Jersey. One of the reasons Memphis has fallen so hard is the decline in the production of rookie guard O.J. Mayo, who has hit the proverbial wall. Mayo still leads all rookies in scoring at 19.1 points, but he has seen his scoring drop off the past two months.
The Grizzlies (11-32) have been a mess for most of its existence in Vancouver and Memphis, taking a brief step out of the NBA cellar during a Jerry West-led run of three consecutive playoff appearances that ended in 2006. A year after getting fleeced in the Pau Gasol trade, the Grizzlies will have their sixth different coach since owner Michael Heisley purchased the team in 2000.
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