The Grizzlies took care of the Nets on Friday, and did so swiftly and easily. The game was over by halftime, when Memphis had built a 67-44 lead over a Brooklyn team that simply didn’t have it in them to compete on this night.
Just because the Nets had packed it in late in the fourth quarter, though, doesn’t mean that their opponent was required to do the same.
Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins had some of his starters in during a fourth quarter where the Nets only scored 10 points, notably Zach Randolph, who played about eight and a half minutes. When it was time to get Randolph back to the bench with under four minutes left and Memphis holding on to a 22-point lead, Hollins sent Marc Gasol to the scorer’s table to replace him.
This did not sit well with Reggie Evans, who had words for Gasol and Hollins from the bench during the game, and spoke some more about it afterward.
After Friday night’s 101-77 defeat, Evans expanded on his frustration, calling it an issue of respect. Most of Memphis’ starters were on the floor with less than four minutes remaining and the Grizzlies leading by 22. But Evans was most baffled by Hollins’ decision to re-insert Gasol with 3:21 left.
“That was the point where it was like, wow, I was shocked. I was real shocked to see him come back in,” Evans said, adding, “We won’t be forgetting, though. Right now we’re going to focus on (Saturday’s game against Houston), but we’re definitely going to look forward to when that day comes where we play (Memphis again).”
It’s not uncommon for a coach to leave one member of his starting unit in the game with four reserves, no matter the situation, simply to maintain some sense of stability in the lineup. And of course, if the Nets wanted to prevent this from happening, they could have chosen to defend better in the first half while the game was still within reach, instead of allowing the Grizzlies to shoot better than 60 percent from the field over the first two periods.
It’s also worth considering the source of this complaint, as Evans isn’t exactly known for being the model NBA citizen who always plays by the rules. He has been caught delivering a strange low blow in the past, and has been fined this season for violating the league’s anti-flopping policy.
Memphis and Brooklyn will meet for the final time this season in Brooklyn on Sunday, Feb. 24.