Memphis always ranks right up there when it comes to violent crime. They don't shoot shows like "The First 48" there for no reason. And on Tuesday night the Cavs were knee-capped before blowing an 11 point halftime lead and taking two in the head in a 111-109 loss to the Grizzlies.
A lot of the wounds the Cavs sustained was self-inflicted, but in the second half Zach Randolph and Mike Conley took turns sticking daggers into the Cavaliers and a desperation three-point attempt by LeBron James in overtime came up short and failed to get the Cavs out of Tennessee with a win.
Randolph abused Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson en route to 32 points and 14 rebounds. Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo were no walk in the park either as they backed up Randolph's big night with 21 points and 28 points respectively.
But it was Conley's unobstructed run to the rim with three seconds left in the overtime period that provided the final basket and the final margin of defeat.
James threw down 43 points and collected 13 rebounds to lead the Cavs. Mo Williams scored 20 and Shaquille O'Neal added 16 points but Williams and James also combined for half of the Cavaliers 20 turnovers with five apiece.
Memphis is improved. The win was their third straight and they've accumulated a young, talented, athletic group of players. But the Cavaliers lack of focus and inability to take care of the basketball had as much to do with their four game winning streak coming to an end as anything the Grizzlies threw at them.
I realize that officiating a game with ten big, brawny gazelles running up and down in a confined space isn't easy. Truly I do. But if these guys aren't influencing outcomes on purpose for cash they're certainly doing just that accidentally or due to flat-out incompetence. The league needs to overhaul their officials and set up a system where competent referees make calls based less on the reputation of players and anticipation and more on what the actual play dictates.
Because the current state of NBA officiating is embarrassing.
At 15-6, and coming off a loss to Memphis, the Cavs do not want to drop a couple straight and get themselves lost in the wake of Atlanta, Orlando and Boston. Wednesday night becomes a pretty big game even if we're only in December.
The Cavs shooting guard had another effective night against the Grizzlies in going 5-7 from the field, 3-3 from deep and scoring 13 points in 16 minutes. Why Gibson didn't get a bit more run against Memphis is a question for another day. But you can tell Gibson is healthy and shooting the ball well when he can ball-fake a defender off the floor and get to the basket. The diminutive guard did just that on a couple of occasions Tuesday for a couple of hoops.
They Got Next
As previously mentioned, it's off to Houston Wednesday night for an 830pm tip on FSN Ohio against the Rockets. After that the Cavs greet the Portland Trail Blazers back home at ‘The Q' on Friday night at 8pm. That one is also on FSN Ohio.